A court in Istanbul has convicted Agos journalists for "degrading Turkishness" (Article 301/1 of the Turkish penal code.
One-year suspended sentence
Arat Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian Agos newspaper and son of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, and licence holder Serkis Seropyan have received a suspended one-year prison sentence for publishing Hrant Dink's words. At the hearing on 11 October, the court handed down one-year suspended sentences for both.
Their lawyer Fethiye Cetin had joined the hearing. She declared that the sentence was unfair and that they would appeal.
Trial followed complaint by nationalist lawyer
The trial had been opened following the complaint of Recep Akkus, a member of the right-wing nationalist Great Lawyers' Union, about an interview which Hrant Dink had given to the Reuters News Agency.
In the interview, Hrant Dink had described the events of 1915, in which more than a million Armenians died, as a "genocide". He had said, "We see that the people who lived on this soil for 4,000 years dissappeared after those events."
The Agos newspaper reported on the investigation concerning the interview and also published the interview on 21 July 2006 in an article entitled "A vote against 301".
The prosecution opened a case against Hrant Dink, Arat Dink and Serkis Seropyan on the same day. When Hrant Dink was murdered on 19 January, the case against him was dropped, but continued against the other two.
"Operation to show me my place"
At one of the hearings, Arat Dink repeated his father's words, saying: "If someone keeps asking me, '[...] tell me, was it a genocide, how would you describe it?', then I cannot deny myself. I cannot deny my history and identity. I said the same thing before and it made the front pages in Turkish newspapers, but no trial was opened. Because at that time there was no operation going on to show me my place..."
Seropyan had said: "I appear as the newspaper owner. If we needed to collect signatures against 301, I would do the same thing again today."
Lawyers will appeal
Defense lawyer Cetin presented the prosecution with the dismissal of proceedings in the case of historian Taner Akcam, and said that the defense would appeal for acquittal.
Erdal Dogan, another lawyer of the defense, had argued that in the light of the case law of the European Convention on Human Rights, the trial was unacceptable, but prosecutor Mücahit Ercan had argued:
"We are of the opinion that the defendants have degraded Turkishness by suggesting a genocide which does not fit historical reality and is not proven, and by insinuating that a people were destroyed by Turks." (EK/NZ)