ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—The retrial of the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink continued on Feb. 11, with activists warning against the case being used for “settling grudges within the state” amid the Turkish government’s recent, damaging graft scandal.
“Based on the fact that this trial is not a legal, but a political matter, this ongoing second process should be conducted in a way that satisfies the public. The trial should not be sacrificed to internal bickering within the state,” said the spokesman of the self-proclaimed Friends of Hrant Dink group. The group comprises of relatives and colleagues of the slain journalist, as well as writers and artists.
The original prosecutor in charge of the retrial, Muammer Akkaş, was dismissed as part of a wave of purges within the judiciary executed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Akkaş was reassigned in highly-controversial fashion after being involved in a second government graft investigation last December.
The new prosecutor, Murat İnam, took over the Dink case this week.
Some 18 suspects, including key names such as Yasin Hayal, Erhan Tuncel and Ersin Yolcu, who had been acquitted in the first trial, are set to stand again in court.
“Seven years have passed [since the murder], either in silence or with the different wings within the state accusing each other. But we know very well that what happened is the continuation of a certain state tradition. It is not a deep state, nor a parallel state. It is the state in its most obvious and shallow way,” the spokesman said during a press statement in front of Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse.
“The state has a part in this murder, in all of its echelons,” he added.
The renowned editor-in-chief of Agos, which has been the voice of the small Armenian community in Istanbul for several decades, was shot dead by Ogün Samast in front of his office in Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007. Samast was sentenced to over 22 years in jail for the murder. The trial into the murder resumed Sept. 17, 2013, after the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that all suspects in the case had acted as part of a criminal organization, rather than individually.
Lawyers representing the Dink family have repeatedly expressed their dismay over the way the investigations and the trial have been conducted.