Turkey trial for murder of Armenian reporter begins News
Turkey trial for murder of Armenian reporter begins

[JURIST] The trial of suspects [JURIST report] allegedly involved in the January murder [JURIST report] of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink [BBC profile] began in Turkey [JURIST news archive] on Monday, with several humanitarian groups calling the case a "test" for the Turkish judiciary. Amnesty International [advocacy website] called for authorities to "leave no stone unturned" [press release] and said that the murder was part "of an increasing pattern of deadly intolerance of freedom of expression." Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] said it will monitor the proceedings [press release] to see how the court "handles evidence that may implicate the security forces," alluding to allegations that officials associated with nationalist forces may have played a role in the killing. Some of the defendants, including a local Istanbul prosecutor, have been charged with negligence for not acting on any of Dink's numerous reports that he had received death threats. Others, such as two ultra-nationalist gang leaders, are alleged to have colluded with the 17-year-old confessed gunman, perhaps even ordering the murder. Prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for the gang leaders, Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, who in turn have claimed connections to various Turkish officials. Some security officers were forced to resign after pictures surfaced of themselves posing with the teenage gunman and a Turkish flag.

Dink was vilified by ultra-nationalists after writing about mass killings of Armenians by Turks [JURIST news archive] in the early twentieth century. His murder came during a wave of nationalism, after he was put on trial [JURIST report] for allegedly violating Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder] of the Turkish penal code, which bans insults against Turkish identity. Amnesty International requested the right to observe the trial, but were turned down. Because of the confessed gunman's age, the trial is being conducted in closed session. AP has more.