An İstanbul court has accepted a new indictment seeking a prison sentence of up to 12 years for Ogün Samast, the convicted murderer of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, on charges of “committing crimes on behalf of an armed terrorist organization without being a member of that organization,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.
The 52-year-old Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual Agos weekly, was shot dead with two bullets to the head outside the newspaper’s headquarters in central İstanbul on Jan. 19, 2007 by Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high school dropout.
Samast was arrested the following day.
After serving 16 years, 10 months, Samast was released from Turkey’s western Bolu province’s F Type Prison last week, which led to outrage among opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists and social media users.
According to Anadolu, the İstanbul 2nd Juvenile Court accepted the indictment seeking a prison sentence ranging from seven years, six months to 12 years for Samast on the grounds that he was in contact with some Gülen-linked police chiefs. Samast will appear before the judge on Dec. 26.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016, and labels it as a terrorist organization. Gülen and his movement strongly deny any involvement in the failed putsch and any terrorist activity.
Speaking to the Artı Gerçek news website following the drafting of the indictment by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, Havva Hülya Deveci, one of the Dink family lawyers, noted that the substance addressed in the new indictment against Samast was included within the statute of limitations.
Deveci explained that the statute of limitations, calculated from the highest limit with an extraordinary limit of 22.5 years, is nevertheless reduced for individuals under the age of 18 to 15 years.
“In the case of Ogün Samast, the statute of limitations for this crime expired on January 19, 2022,” Deveci said.
In June Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld certain acquittals while overturning other verdicts in the trial of 76 defendants, primarily public officials, in connection with Dink’s assassination.
The verdict handed down on March 26, 2021 by the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court included 33 acquittals and 27 convictions.
Samast had confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in prison in 2011.