"Your Court will go down in History"
The plaintiff lawyers presented their final speech at the 22nd hearing of the trial on the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Repeatedly requested records of the Telecommunication Communication Presidency were finally sent to court and will be investigated now.
The 22nd hearing of the trial related to the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was heard before the Beşiktaş (Istanbul) 14th High Criminal Court on Monday (5 December). Dink, founder and then editor-in-chief of the Armenian Agos newspaper, was shot in front of his office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007.
The hearing was attended by un-detained defendant Mustafa Öztürk and detained key suspects Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel. The joint attorneys of the Dink family presented their final plea to court.
The session began at 11.00 am and finished in the late afternoon at 5.00 pm. The plaintiff lawyers read out 73 pages of their final plea in turns. Together with the attachment the attorneys' speech comprised a total of 106 pages.
The plea also referred to joint attorney Hakan Karadağ who committed suicide in the course of the trial.
Why was Hrant Dink murdered?
The text of the attorneys' speech included detailed information on the set up of the murder, its political and ideological basis, on who Dink was and why he was killed. Accountabilities of the defendants and public officials were depicted and requests related to the trial were reiterated.
The lawyers emphasized that the council of the prosecution did not attach sufficient importance on the background of the murder during the four-year and ten-month trial period. Their speech started with an explanation of who Hrant Dink actually was.
"Who was Hrant Dink and why was he killed?" was the heading of a section on Dink's life, his professional career and articles written by the slain journalist.
The articles read out were for instance "The state of my soul is like the restlessness of a dove" published in the Agos newspaper on 19 January 2007, the day of the murder, or "Why was I chosen as a target?" (Agos, 12 January 2007).
The lawyers pointed to the article "The secret of Sabiha Hatun" about Sabiha Gökçen, the world's first female fighter pilot and one of the adopted children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, published in the Agos daily on 6 February 2004. They concluded that the process which lead to the murder was started when this article made the headlines in the nation-wide Hürriyet newspaper on 21 February 2004. The following day, the General Staff had announced that "This article was an offence against the integrity of the state", the lawyers mentioned.
"It is the prosecutor's duty to launch investigations, not to write articles"
The attorneys' speech included a detailed section on the process leading to the murder. Negligence and accountabilities of the media, police forces, public officials, the intelligence and the judiciary were depicted one by one.
At the 20th hearing on 19 September 2011, the plaintiff lawyers had left the court room under protest when Prosecutor Hikmet Usta insisted on presenting his final plea. They criticized that his investigation into the 86-page evaluation had not been finished and remained as an "essay". The lawyers reminded the fact that it was the duty of a prosecutor to launch investigations.
Prosecutor Usta on the other hand reiterated his opinion on the final plea and claimed that there was no need for a new investigation.
Under the section "The process of preparation of the murder", the plaintiff lawyers drew attention to former Istanbul Deputy Governor Ergun Güngör who called Dink to a meeting into his office that was also attended by two intelligence officers. This was after the 'Sabiha Gökçen news' had been published. The lawyers also pointed to some provocative news and articles in the media and threats made by the Ülkü Ocakları (affiliated to the Grey Wolves).
"It is up to the court"
The section entitled "Investigation Period" listed negligence and mistakes made by the judiciary and the police. It concluded, "The state had the obligation to protect one of its citizens from this avoidable catastrophe". The lawyers stated that in the course of this trial the "state's tradition" of political murders and hostility against Armenian had been continued.
Examples were given for political murders by the state and hostility against Armenians starting from the beginning of the 20th century.
The joint attorneys addressed Court President Rüstem Eryılmaz, "Your court will go down in history in any case. It will either be the court that is going to re-establish confidence in a judiciary that breaks this tradition; or it will be the court that carries on with the tradition of political murders and hostility... It is up to the court".
The second part of the attorneys' speech on technical details comprising more than a hundred pages is going to be read at the 23rd hearing on 26 December.
TİB records sent to court but not investigated yet
The telephone records of the area around the scene of crime were eventually sent to court by the Telecommunication Communication Presidency (TİB). The lawyers of both parties requested additional time for the investigation of the records that were only obtained on 2 December.
The hearing was observed by Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Bar Association Presidents from seven provinces, namely lawyers Halil Hulki Özel (Mersin), Mehmet Cemal Acar (Siirt), Enis Gül (Bitlis), Nuşirevan Elçi (Şırnak), Azad Yıldırım (Mardin), Heval Sinan Aras (Ağrı) and Erdal Aydemir (Bingöl).
The trial was postponed to 26 December 2011.
Court President Eryılmaz ruled to keep detained defendants Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel in detention. They are tried under allegations of "membership of a terrorist organization and assisting a terrorist organization" according to Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK); Article 314/2 on "armed illegal organization" and Article 82 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) on "premeditated murder". (IC)
İstanbul - BIA News Center
06 December 2011, Tuesday