Turkish officials ignored Dink murder plot

Turkish state officials failed to protect prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, murdered in 2007, despite knowing of the plot to kill him, a report commissioned by the president has concluded.

President Abdullah Gul ordered Turkey's State Supervisory Council (DDK) to investigate the case after accusations from Dink's family, lawyers and rights groups that state officials had been complicit in the murder.

The investigation into the murder of Dink, former editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos and Turkey's best known Armenian voice abroad, was viewed as a test of democracy and human rights in European Union candidate Turkey.

In a 650-page report, the conclusion of which was posted on the president's website late on Monday, the DDK said security forces failed to act on tip-offs about a plan to murder Dink and called for the negligent officials to be investigated and tried.

Last month, an Istanbul court sentenced a man to life in prison for involvement in Dink's murder but acquitted 17 other defendants, sparking large protests and criticism from rights groups.

A juvenile court had already sentenced Dink's assassin, Ogun Samast, to 22 years and 10 months in jail last July. He was 17 when the killing took place.

Many Turks believe Dink was the target of arch nationalists because of articles he wrote about Armenian identity and references he made to a Turkish "genocide" of Christian Armenians in 1915 - an accusation Turkey strenuously denies.

STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS

The report said the failure to prevent Dink's murder showed the need for reforms to the security system.

"The first issue to be expressed regarding the failure to protect Hrant Dink's right to life is that some structural problems exist within the security sector ... regarding the collection and evaluation of intelligence and providing public and personal security," the DDK said in the report.

"It is essential first to look at the need for reform on the matter and a number of problems in institutional structures and practices," it said.

Public confidence in the judicial system had been undermined by the way the case had been handled, it added.

"On the one hand, a result to a case that does not satisfy the public conscience has emerged and, on the other hand, the credibility of all the public institutions has been brought into question," the DDK said in the report.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkish authorities to pay 100,000 euros ($132,600, Dh485,668) to Dink's family in compensation, saying authorities had failed to protect Dink even though they knew ultra-nationalists were plotting to kill him.

Seven security officials have already been convicted for failing to relay information on the plot that could have prevented the murder.

In a statement ahead of last month's verdict, Amnesty International said authorities had still not investigated the full circumstances behind Dink's murder.

Dink had been repeatedly prosecuted for insulting "Turkishness" under the infamous article 301 of the penal code, which was later amended to placate EU criticism that Turkey was violating freedom of expression.

Armenia, backed by many historians and parliaments, says 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey during World War One in a deliberate policy of genocide ordered by the Ottoman government.

Ankara denies the killings constitute genocide and says many Muslim Turks and Kurds were also put to death as Russian troops invaded eastern Anatolia, often aided by Armenian militias.

 

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