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Turkey10 May 2007

Trial of Turkish-Armenian editor’s alleged murderers to start on 2 July

Reporters Without Borders today hailed the announcement that 18 people will go on trial before an Istanbul court on 2 July for the murder of Hrant Dink, the editor of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, who was shot three times in the head as he was returning to his office in Istanbul on 19 January.

“We hope all the aspects of this case will be clarified, including the possible involvement of public officials,” the press freedom organisation said. “It is vital that the trial should be held in a secure and transparent manner, so that the court is not subjected to pressure or intimidation and is able to hand down an impartial verdict.”

The trial is to be held behind closed doors on the grounds that the alleged shooter, Ogün Samast, is only 17. The long list of charges against him include “murder with premeditation” and “membership of a terrorist organisation.” The sentence requested by the prosecution for Samast is severe - 18 to 24 years in prison. Twelve of the 18 people accused are currently detained.

Reporters Without Borders added: “It is essential that those who instigated this murder, whoever they are, should also be identified and punished.”

The murder of Dink, who was of Armenian origin, was widely condemned, not only by the Armenian community but by many other Turkish sectors and throughout the world. Dink defended democracy and free speech, which he tried to put into practice in a difficult climate, and he had many run-ins with the authorities and Turkish nationalists as result of his courage and outspokenness.

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