The Court of Appeals 4th Chamber quashed a verdict initially given by a local court in favour of the family of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated in 2007. The family had sued out a compensation on the grounds of an attack on Dink's personal rights constituted by the contents of the documentary "The Labyrinth of the Shahs" broadcasted on the state channel TRT. The broadcasting company, Bey Productions and Ökkeş Şendiller as the person who uttered the expressions subject to trial were previously sentenced to a monetary fine.
Joint attorney Fethiye Çetin applied for a revision of the decision given by the Court of Appeals.
The Dink family opened the case upon their claim that the documentary gave the impression of Hrant Dink as being a perpetrator of the Maraş Massacre.
The Istanbul 4th Civil Court of First Instance approved the claim of the Dink Family and decided for a compensation fine.
Revision of the decision of the Court of Appeals
The documentary "The Labyrinth of the Shah" was broadcasted on 28 December 2008. In the 11th episode of the documentary, a photograph of Hrant Dink was shown full-screen in a section about the Maraş Massacre while Şendiller was speaking.
The following statement of Şendiller was subject to trial:
"This had nothing to do with Alevism or Sunnism. Armenian Garbis Altınyan was part of this organization. As you know, Armenian Garbis Altınyan was one of the prominent leaders in 1971 and one of the founders of TİKKO [Turkish Workers' Peasants' Liberation Army]. Here you are, Hrant Dink, Armenian Garbis Altınyan and Orhan Bakır, let me call him my master, all of them changed the name of the organization".
"Among the dead, among the militants who died in clashes later on, are seven bodies without circumcision. What can Armenian Garbis Altınyan and seven bodies without circumcision have to do with Alevis, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmens, and Avshars. As far as we see, an exterior focus was behind this issue".
The Court of Appeals 4th Law Chamber decided to overrule the local court's decision because the documentary was considered in line with the principles of "truth, reality and objectivity".
Violation of procedure
Lawyer Çetin requested to annul the decision of reversal given by the Court of Appeals and uphold the decision of the local court instead.
Çetin put forward a violation of procedure since the Court of Appeals did not evaluate the decision why the ruling of the local court was faulty and how the verdict of the superior court complied with the law.
In the request for a revision of the decision Çetin claimed that it was "impossible to talk about conformity with the principles of truth, reality and objectivity" in the context of the broadcast.
"If Hrant Dink is not involved at all in the referred incidents - and he is not - then the esteemed chamber has to explain why the plaintiffs used his name and his photograph and how this broadcast can be in line with the law", Çetin commented.
The Maraş Massacre started with the killing of two teachers and the bombing of a cinema. Alevi and people associated with the left wing and the Republican People's Party (CHP) were being targeted. A significant part of the Alevi population left the city in south-eastern Turkey after the massacre. (YY/VK)