Who Really Murdered Hrant Dink?

January 19, 2012

Hrant Dink
Hrant Dink was shot dead outside his Istanbul office in 2007. © Private

Five years ago, Hrant was gunned down in front of his Istanbul office by a 17-year-old Turk named Ogun Samast.   Dink, an outspoken member of Turkey’s dwindling Armenian community and the editor of the newspaper, Agos, had long been subject to public vilification and state harassment.  His death was a shock, but it was no surprise.

Samast was convicted last year of the killing, and sentenced to over 22 years.  It was obvious, however, that the teenager was not acting alone: not only had Samast himself confessed he was driven by a group of people whom he called “older brothers;” In 2010 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Turkish authorities had “failed to act on information they received that could have prevented Dink’s murder and had failed to investigate the role of state officials in his death.”

Despite this judgment, however, on January 17 a Turkish court convicted only one individual, Yasin Hayal of instigating the 2007 murder, rejecting “claims that the murder was an act of conspiracy by an illegal network within the Turkish state.”   Yet there is good reason to believe that elements of the security services were involved, particularly because Hayal had close relations with officers in the local gendarmerie.

This was, as Reporters Without Borders has stated, “a sham trial”. Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher Andrew Gardner notes:

The security services knew of the murder plot and were in communication with those accused of the murder yet nothing was done to stop it taking place. Nothing short of a full investigation into the actions of all the state institutions and officials implicated in the murder will represent justice.

Currently, Turkey is imprisoning thousands for what appear to be political crimes.  Among these journalists like Nedim Şener, a forceful critic of Turkey’s handling of the Dink case.  The irony is that while journalists like Şener languish in pre-trial detention, the real conspirators – and murderers – continue to garner their government pay.

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