Dink Convict Yasin Hayal Will “Not be Released” for Time Spent Under Arrest, Hurriyet Says

ISTANBUL – Yasin Hayal, who is currently serving a life sentence for his role in the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, will not be released since the local court finalized his case before his fifth year in prison ended, the Hurriyet Daily News reports referring to judicial sources.

A Dink family lawyer had claimed on September 13 that Hayat could be released in January 2013, when the maximum time for arrest, five years plus a one year extension by the Supreme Court of Appeals is exceeded.

However, the Supreme Court of Appeals has systematically calculated the period of arrest as ending on the date the local court issued the verdict, daily Milliyet reported on September 14, citing unnamed Supreme Court of Appeals sources. This has been the practice of the high court since the highly controversial release of the Hizbullah case defendants, a decision that was subject to major criticisms at the time, the report said, added that as Hayal’s case was finalized by the local court before the fifth year in prison ended, he will not be released unless a radical change occurs.

The Istanbul 14th Court for Serious Crimes, which is hearing the Dink assassination case and has received criticism for deciding that the murder was not committed as an organized action, has not sent the case file to the Supreme Court of Appeals even though eight months have passed since the decisions were made about the defendants. This has led to discussions that the instigator of the Dink murder, Yasin Hayal, could be released due to an article in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK) which suggests that one can serve five years at most in prison under arrest, and the appeals court may extend it for a year while it deliberates the case. Hayal was arrested on January 24th, 2007.

Hayal was sentenced on January 17, 2012 to aggravated life imprisonment, while the trigger-man, Ogut Samast, had earlier been sentenced to 22 years in prison by a juvenile court.

In its ruling, the court argued that there was not enough evidence indicating the existence of a conspiracy behind the crime, despite lingering doubts. A prosecutor then appealed the ruling at the trial on March 30, arguing that the crime was an organized hit.

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