European Court Starts Dink Case Review

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STRASBOURG (Today’s Zaman)–The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has begun to review the case of assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was tried and convicted under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code restricting freedom of speech.

Dink’s lawyers applied to the ECtHR on Jan. 11, 2007, days before his murder, arguing that Dink was being tried for “insulting Turkishness” and that the reason for his trial was in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights’ principles of freedom of speech, fair trial and legality of given punishment. They also argued that Dink was treated differently because he was Armenian.

Dink was shot dead outside the offices of the Agos newspaper in Istanbul in 2007. One of the family’s lawyers, Fethiye Cetin, had said that Dink’s murder was committed following a long period of preparation, stretching as far back as 2004.

The lawyers for Dink’s family had applied to the ECtHR in 2008 and again in 2009, arguing the Turkish state did not take precautions to prevent Dink’s murder. They had first appealed to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding seven policemen, including former Trabzon police intelligence chief Engin Dinc and former counterterrorism team head Yahya Ozturk, claiming that these officers had obstructed justice. The Istanbul chief public prosecutor sent the appeal to the Trabzon Public Prosecutor’s Office, which decided on Jan. 10 against opening a court case against the policemen. The lawyers appealed the decision to the nearest high criminal court, in Rize, but last week the court in Rize also decided not to open a case against the policemen. “The suspects did not commit murder by negligence and were not aware of the murder plans,” the Rize court said.

The ECtHR asked the Turkish government to provide detailed information on the Dink case to address the issue of the alleged discriminatory acts. The court will also evaluate the concept of “insulting Turkishness.”

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