The defendant in the case of Sevag Balikci, an Armenian citizen of Turkey who was shot dead during his compulsory military service, has been sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison, according to the Bianet news agency.
Balikci was killed on April 24, 2011, the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On the day he was killed, he had 20 days to complete his service in the Kozluk district of the southeastern Batman province.
The Diyarbakir 2nd Air Force Command Military Court sentenced Kivanc Agaoglu to four years, five months and 10 days in prison for the premeditated and reckless murder on March 26, 2013.
The Balıkci family appealed the case at the Court of Cassation, which overturned the court ruling on procedural grounds.
“I attach importance to this. At last, we have seen that a hate crime against Armenians in the country resulted in a court sentencing the defendant,” Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) told Bianet.
However, he said, Turkey needs a “climate” where such hate crimes would not happen and it has not achieved this yet. “We must make political openings and create a climate where no one is targeted by hate crimes.”
Paylan also mentioned the killing of Hrant Dink, the trial for which has been continuing for 13 years. He expressed hope the decision on Balikci’s s killing sets a precedent for other hate crimes cases.