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Turkish court sentences assassin of Turkish-Armenian author

A Turkish court on Monday sentenced Ogun Samast for murdering Turkish-Armenian author Hrant Dink [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], journalist and former editor of the newspaper Agos [media website, in Turkish], who was shot and killed [JURIST report] in Istanbul in January 2007. Samast, a minor at the time of Dink's death and the primary suspect charged in Dink's murder, was sentenced to 21-and-a-half years [Turkish Weekly report] in prison. He was also sentenced to 16 months in prison for possessing an unlicensed weapon. A separate court is currently hearing cases against two of four other suspects charged in connection with the murder. Eyten Mahcupyan, a Turkish Armenian columnist, and Fethiye Cetin, a lawyer, praised [Reuters report] the court's decision, saying that a tough sentence would deter similar crimes and compel the other courts to hand down equally severe sentences.

In September 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [judgment, in French] that Turkey failed to protect Dink [JURIST report], failed to adequately investigate his murder and infringed on his right of freedom of expression. Dink was convicted in 2006 [JURIST report] of "insulting the Turkish identity" in violation of Article 301 [JURIST news archive] of Turkey's penal code after writing about the killings of an estimated one million Ottoman Armenians [ANI backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] in the early twentieth century. Dink was awaiting a retrial [JURIST report] after his conviction had been overturned, and his writings had prompted death threats from Turkish nationalists.

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