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Prosecutor demands charges be dropped against Dink’s killer in new trial

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A public prosecutor has asked for the dismissal of charges against the convicted murderer of a Turkish-Armenian journalist in a trial in which he is accused of committing crimes on behalf of an armed terrorist organization.

The prosecutor demanded that the charges against Ogün Samast and six other defendants be dropped due to the statute of limitations.

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 January 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 prison in western Bolu province on November 15, which led to outrage among opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists and social media users.

Days after Samast’s release, the İstanbul 2nd Juvenile Court accepted an indictment seeking a prison sentence ranging from seven to 12 years for Samast on charges that he “committed crimes on behalf of an armed terrorist organization.”

The juvenile court merged 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 committing.

Samast attended the latest hearing of the trial at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court on Wednesday via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS) from a courthouse in his hometown of Trabzon.

Samast told the court that he agrees with the prosecutor’s opinion and does not want additional time for his defense statement.

The other defendants in the merged trial wanted additional time to counter the opinion of the prosecutor, who sought prison sentences for them on charges of terrorist organization membership and attempting to destroy the constitutional order.

The court adjourned the trial until October 16.

Dink’s family and lawyers say justice will not have been served as long as the masterminds behind the murder and the state officials who allegedly did not prevent the murder, facilitated it or tried to cover it up are not brought before a court.

Samast had confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in prison in 2011.

The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court in 2021 separated the files of 13 fugitive suspects, including Fethullah Gülen, on the grounds that their defense statements were not delivered, also ruling that Dink’s murder was committed “in line with the objectives of FETÖ” – a derogatory term used by the Turkish government to refer to the faith-based movement inspired by Gülen as a terrorist organization.

For years, prosecutors have looked into alleged links between the suspects and Gülen, who is accused of masterminding a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, although he strongly denies the charges.

The Turkish government’s ongoing crackdown on the Gülen movement was launched following corruption investigations in late 2013 that implicated then-prime minister and now president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close circle and intensified in the aftermath of the failed coup on July 15, 2016.

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