ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Lawyers for assassinated journalist Hrant Dink objected Tuesday to an Istanbul court’s decision to try the main murder suspect in a juvenile court, calling for his case to be re-merged with those of other suspects.
Alleged killer Ogun Samast’s dossier was removed from the Istanbul court Monday based on revisions to the law affecting minors’ legal status in adult courts. Samast was under the age of 18 at the time of the murder in 2007.
According to Fethiye Cetin, a lawyer for the Dink family, the law enables the cases to be merged again, something he said the lawyers would demand.
The impact of the court’s decision Monday continues to be debated, with lawyers and family members saying the real problem with the trial is its lack of scope.
Though separating Samast from the other case will likely extend the already prolonged legal process, it would not be that big of an issue if the court revised its focus to address the “true responsible parties,” Arzu Becerik, another lawyer in the murder case, told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday prior to Cetin’s statement. She said the lawyers’ intention is to move the process in that direction.
The defense also demanded that the European Court of Human Rights decision that Turkey had failed to protect Dink be accepted as solid evidence in the domestic case. The court has been criticized for not investigating or bringing to trial high-level civil servants and security personnel who made have played a role in Dink’s death.
“Ogun is a detail in this case,” Becerik said. “He is a part of the case for sure, but not the defining part.”
Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian descent and the editor-in-chief of Agos, was murdered in front of his newspaper’s office in Istanbul in January 2007.
According to Becerik, the lawyers’ demand for the European court’s decision to play a role in an ongoing trial would be a first both in Turkey and Europe, with the exception of prolonged arrest periods. She claimed it would not have been possible for the current suspects to have planned a political murder so professionally, and that the case would not be settled even if they were given the strictest possible sentences.
She said if their demand is not met, then the lawyers will take the case to the European court again.
The European court decision will be final Dec. 14, following a three-month period during which it is open to objections. The Istanbul court dealing with the Dink case has decided to wait for this period to end before making a ruling, although both Turkish authorities and the Dink family have stated they will not object.
Samast’s actual age was a matter of question in the first years of the trial, but Becerik said the issue has since been settled. “We did the research when he was first captured. He was born in a hospital and has a brother younger than him. It is not possible for his age to have been lowered,” she said, adding that the necessary tests and x-rays have been done to block legal ways to question his age on the day of the murder.
Speaking about the case Tuesday, State Minister Cemil Çiçek said, “Everybody under 18 is a minor.” He added that laws are not written for specific persons or cases and that the application of recently changed Law No. 6008, commonly known as the “stone-throwing children’s law,” was not inconsistent with its aim of easing the plight of juveniles charged under Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws.
Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay took a different approach Tuesday, saying he “met the development with regret.”
Main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said children who throw stones at security forces should not be treated the same as those who fire guns.