Hrant Dink’s Murderer Sentenced to 22 Years in Jail

Hurriyet Daily News

ISTANBUL — The murderer of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink Ogun Samast was sentenced to over 22 years in jail in Istanbul’s Juvenile Court, yet Dink’s friends say that now it is tie to punish the real criminals behind the murder.

Ogun Samast, who has been in jail for four and a half years, defended himself by saying that he didn’t know Dink and has been influenced by newspapers and columnists.

A juvenile court in Istanbul handed down a jail term Monday of nearly 23 years to the self-confessed murderer of prominent ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was gunned down in broad daylight in 2007.

The juvenile court initially condemned Ogun Samast to life, but reduced the sentence to 21 and a half years on the grounds that he was underage at the time of the murder before giving him an additional 16 months for possession of an unlicensed weapon.

Samast was facing 18 to 24 years in hail on charges of having killed Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin and the editor-in-chief of weekly Agos, who was murdered in front of his newspaper’s office in Istanbul on Jan 10, 2007.

During the trial, Samast defended himself by saying he had a poor education and committed the murder under other people’s influences.

“I was influenced by newspapers and some columnists. Otherwise, how would I know Hrant Dink, how would I know Agos?”, Samast said.

A lawyer for the Dink family noted that Samast is also a suspect in another case on accusations of being a member of a terrorist organization.

“The court’s decision is closer to the upper limit,” Dink family lawyer Fethiye Cetin told the private news channel NTV. “However this is only one part of the case. In today’s trial Samast was convicted of murder, yet he is also being tried for being a part of terror organization.”

Samast if also facing eight to 18 years in hail on terror related charges. He is being tried along with Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal, who are also charged with “membership in and directing of a terrorist organization” and “assisting a terrorist organization.” Cetin said they are expecting another 11 years of imprisonment for Samast from that trial.

Under the Turkish Penal code, Samast will likely not serve the 22 years and 10 months to which he was sentenced. Legal experts said he might be able to leave prison after between 10 and 12 years.

“His sentence will be decreased if he shows good behavior in prison,” Ali Ersin Gur, former president of Contemporary Lawyers Association, or CHD.

Many think the sentence is not enough

Regardless of how much time he ends up serving, Samast’s sentence will not be enough to please those who believe there are other people behind the murder, according to figures who have been following the trial closely.

“We have been waiting for this decision for 4.5 years, and today it has been finalized. Yet the real criminals haven’t been tried yet,” said Garo Paylan, a member for a group known as Hrant’s Friends.

“There are several state officers behind this murder. We want each of them to be sentenced,” Cetin said.

Among the eight suspects who are being tried on charges of negligence in preventing the Dink murder are Trabzon Gendarmerie Commander Col. Ali Oz and Gendarmerie Intelligence Unit Director Cpt. Metin Yildiz.

Paylan said now was the time to punish the other people involved. “Today the court punished the child, yet we are waiting for his big brothers,” he said.

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