ISTANBUL – A Turkish ultranationalist has been sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday for ordering the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Yasin Hayal and nineteen others were however cleared of terrorism charges.
Dink was assassinated in front of the office of his newspaper in Istanbul on 19 January 2007. He was controversial among nationalist Turks, because he called the mass killings of Armenians in the First World War ‘genocide’.
There is great bewilderment and anger among the Dink family and their lawyers. The murder is now classified as an act by individuals, while it is commonly believed that behind it was Ergenekon, a shadowy gang of bureaucrats and military personnel that is classed as terrorist and connected to the state. Fethiye Cetin, one of the lawyers for the Dink family, said in a statement: ‘This ruling means a tradition was left untouched: the state tradition of political murders.’
The murderer, who was 17 years old when he shot Dink, was sentenced to 23 years imprisonment last year.