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September 2020
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Life Sentence for Hayal, Tuncel Acquitted

BİA News Center

The trial regarding the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was decided at the 25th hearing of the case on Tuesday (17 January). Dink, editor-in-chief of the Armenian Agos newspaper at the time, was gunned down in front of his office on 19 January 2007 in the district of Şişli (Istanbul).

All defendants were acquitted of charges of membership of a criminal organization.

Yasin Hayal was handed down an aggravated life sentence on charges of instigation to premeditated murder. Moreover, he received three months imprisonment for having threatened author Orhan Pamuk and one additional year in jail on the grounds of possessing an unlicensed weapon.

Osman Hayal was acquitted of charges of homicide and of membership of a criminal organization.

Erhan Tuncel was acquitted of charges of membership of an armed terrorist organization and of instigation to homicide.

Tuncel was handed down a prison sentence of ten years and six months on the grounds of the McDonalds bombing.

Salih Hacisalihoğlu was sentenced to 2 months and 15 days behind jail on charges of unlicensed possession of ammunition.

Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet İskender received prison terms of twelve years and six months each for assisting in a premeditated murder.

İskender was furthermore sentenced to one year imprisonment because of possession of an unlicensed weapon.

The final hearing was attended by detained defendants Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal, un-detained defendant Ersin Yolcu, the other defendants and their lawyers.

Kadriye Ceylan, mother of Tolga Baykal Ceylan who disappeared in 2004, applied for joint plaintiff status for the last hearing but her request was dismissed.

“Responsible persons are not prosecuted”

In the beginning of the final hearing, the joint attorneys of the Dink family criticized the statement of the prosecutor’s final plea presented at the previous hearing. He had claimed that “Dink was not killed because he was Armenian. In the attorneys’ opinion, “the prosecutor is wrong. Hrant Dink was made a target and killed because he was Armenian, because he voiced that problem and made news about it. His being threatened is the result of the minority policies of the Turkish state. Therefore, we based an important part of our final speech on this issue”, the lawyers replied.

They reminded the prosecutor having claimed in his final plea that the murder was committed by the Trabzon cell of the clandestine Ergenekon organization (charged with the attempt to topple the government).

The joint attorneys continued, “We made countless applications to prosecute public officials but it did not help at all. The prosecutor spoke of a more comprehensive higher organization but since evidence was being concealed this remained a mere finding. Also the prosecutor accepted the fact that public officials were responsible for this murder. We request Osman Hayal to be punished on charges of membership of a criminal organization and homicide as well. Apart from these points we agree with the prosecutor’s final plea”.

“Violation done by public officials shifted to Tuncel”

The plaintiff lawyers presented a brief speech of defence.

Erhan Tunel’s lawyer responded that Tuncel was not a member of the Ergenekon organization and that his involvement was limited to the Trabzon Police Directorate where he was an intelligence informant. The lawyer continued:

“Tuncel said all he knew from the very beginning. He fulfilled his duty and informed the police about the murder beforehand. The responsibility of the other public officials is being shifted to Tuncel and that way the other connections will be taken out of the file”.

“Yasin Hayal talked as if he only knew Tuncel from the police. The fact that he did not even mention the Trabzon Provincial Police Director is sufficiently self-evident in our opinion. However, the file of this murder has not been investigated thoroughly”.

Tuncel requested to speak subsequent to his lawyer’s speech. He said that the presentation of the three sections of his defence was going to take three hours. “I did not defend myself at all, I just said was happened. But remaining silent does not mean acceptance” Tuncel said in allusion to a column written by Buket Aşçı.

“The people who violated their duty deceived the prosecutor and thus avoided an investigation. I am not an Ergenekon member, I learned the word “ultra national” in prison (…)”. Tuncel rejected the allegations put forward in the prosecutor’s final speech and the statements made about him by the other defendants.

Tuncel: “Why did they not prevent the murder when they knew I would commit it?”

After an intermission at around noon time, Tuncel continued his defence speech:

“The police, state and military are not holy. There are people committing crimes in any institution. (…) It was enough that I said that Hrant Dink would be shot. I said this 18 times and nobody prevented it”.

“They could not have expected me to stop anybody. (…) I did not kill anybody”.

All defence lawyers demanded the acquittal of their clients.

In a final comment, Yasin Hayal claimed, “Erhan Tuncel voiced unfounded allegations against me. I will request my lawyer to open an investigation about Tuncel. Everybody in my close environment said they avoided me. Why did nobody go to the police in all that time? Did Turkey and the police avoid me as well?”

“You were not able to prove my connection to Ergenekon. I want a proof. If Tuncel informed the police one year before that I was going to kill Dink, why did the police not stop me? I want an answer to that question”.

After another intermission, Court President Rüstem Eryılmaz announced the decisions as mentioned above. Subsequent to the hearing, a group of people walked from the courthouse in Beşiktaş to the Agos newspaper in Şişli. (ÇT/IC/VK)