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Hrant Dink’s newly released murderer to be arrested if he fails to appear in court

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Ogün Samast, the convicted murderer of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was released from prison last week, may be arrested again if he fails to appear in court on December 26 over a new indictment, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Wednesday, citing an İstanbul court.

The new indictment seeks a prison sentence of up to 12 years on charges of “committing crimes on behalf of an armed terrorist organization without being a member of that organization.”

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 on Nov.15, which led to outrage among opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists and social media users.

According to Gazete Duvar, the İstanbul 2nd Juvenile Court requested Samast’s address from the prison upon his release.

The court accepted an 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 a 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 or any terrorist activity.

Speaking to the Artı Gerçek news website, Havva Hülya Deveci, a lawyer for the Dink family, stated that the new indictment against Samast exceeds the statute of limitations, which is ordinarily 22.5 years but is reduced to 15 years for those under 18. Deveci noted that in Samast’s case, this period expired on January 19, 2022.

The juvenile court is reportedly considering merging Samast’s case with another ongoing trial at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court, involving 11 suspects, including Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, for their alleged involvement in the crime Samast is accused of.

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.

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