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Turkey18 July 2007

Six months after editor’s murder, authorities warned that incomplete trial will not be accepted

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its support for the demands of the family, friends and colleagues of Hrant Dink, a newspaper editor of Armenian descent who was gunned down in Istanbul exactly six months ago on 19 January 2007.

“We call on the authorities to pursue their investigation and to shed light on all aspects of this case,” the press freedom organisation said. “The trial of Dink’s alleged murderers that opened on 2 July in Istanbul and is due to have its next hearing on 1 October, is a crucial test for the Turkish judicial system. Its independence is at stake here.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “We will not be satisfied with a trial in which only some of those responsible for Dink’s murder are in the dock. All those who played a role must be identified including, if necessary, those who work for the security services. It is essential that the judicial system should expose the various connections between military, police and other officials that may have been involved in this case.”

Reporters Without Borders went to Istanbul for the opening of the trial and saw the size of the demonstration outside. “We are all witnesses and we want justice,” said one of the banners displayed by the many demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse.

Born in 1954, Dink was the editor of the weekly Agos, Turkey’s leading Armenian newspaper. For years he had been urging his fellow citizens to face up to the issue of the Armenian genocide in 1915. Although the target of threats and accusations, he always refused to leave Turkey.

He said in his last interview: “It is here that I want to pursue the fight, because it is not just my fight, it is the fight of all those who want Turkey to be democratised. If I give up and leave the country, it will be a shame for everyone. My ancestors lived in this country, it is here that I have my roots, and I have the right to die in the country where I was born.”

The 18 defendants are all from Trabzon, a Black Sea city with a reputation for ultra-nationalist violence. The youngest defendant, Ogün Samast, 17, is the one who is alleged to have fired the shots that killed Dink. The two defendants who allegedly got him to do it, Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal, face life imprisonment. The other 15 defendants are charged with complicity.




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