Turkish court announces 2007 Dink murder case verdict

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ISTANBUL

The 2007 murder case of a prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist was concluded Friday by a Turkish court that tried dozens of defendants, including the ringleader of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), a former prosecutor and gendarmerie and police officers.

The Istanbul heavy penal court issued a verdict on the case over the murder of Hrant Dink after trying 76 defendants, six of whom are currently detained and 13 of whom are fugitives, said a judicial source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Dink, then editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, was gunned down outside his office on Jan. 19, 2007.

The defendants of the case included former prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, journalists, gendarmerie and former security officers, as well as Fetullah Gulen, the ringleader of FETO, which was behind a 2016 defeated coup in the country.

One of the defendants, former police chief Ali Fuat Yilmazer, was handed an aggravated life sentence for premeditated murder and an additional four-and-a-half years for destroying an official document.

Ramazan Akyurek, another defendant, also received an aggravated life sentence for the same charge, as well as over 13 more years in prison for destruction and forgery of an official document.

Defendant Muharrem Demirkale was handed two life sentences for both violating the Constitution and aiding premeditated murder, while Yavuz Karakaya received a life sentence and over 12 years for the same charges.

Former gendarmerie commander of Trabzon province, Ali Oz, as well as Okan Simsek, Veysal Sahin, and Gazi Gunay received over 28 years in prison each for the charges of premeditated murder and forgery of an official document.

Another defendant, Osman Gulbel, was slapped with 16 years and eight months for negligence amounting to premeditated murder.

Over 16-year prison terms were also given to defendants Mehmet Ayhan, Ugur Karakaya, Faruk Sair and Hasan Durmusoglu for the same crime as Gulbel and for destroying an official document.

Volkan Sahin also received 12-and-a-half years in prison for negligence amounting to premeditated murder.

The court also sentenced Ercan Gun to a decade in prison for being a member of an armed terrorist organization, namely FETO, though he was found not guilty for violating the Constitution.

Former civil inspector Mehmet Ali Ozkilinc also received a total of 10 years behind bars for membership of an armed terror group and acting in favor of a criminal.

Former civil inspector Sukru Yildiz received three years and nine months in prison for knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terror group.

The court handed prison sentences to Bekir Yokus, Onder Ariz, Mehmet Ucar and Metin Yildiz ranging from three years and four months to 10 years over various charges.

Defendants Abdullah Dinc, Ahmet Faruk Aydogdu, Metin Balta, Yakup Kurtaran and Ozkan Mumcu were found guilty of being FETO members and they received varying prison sentences from six years and three months to seven years and six months.

Arrest warrants for the fugitive defendants are still in force, said the source.

37 of the defendants were released, while the file of another was dropped as he died during the course of the trial.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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