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Turkish Court Gives Man Life Sentence Over Dink Murder


(Ece Toksabay, Reuters) - An Istanbul court convicted a man on Tuesday for instigating the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink five years ago, sentencing him to life imprisonment in a case closely watched by human rights groups.

Editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos and Turkey's best known Armenian voice abroad, Dink was shot in broad daylight as he left his Istanbul office in January 2007.

The judge sentenced Yasin Hayal to life imprisonment and acquitted 19 defendants of a charge of being part of a terrorist group.

A juvenile court sentenced Dink's assassin, Ogun Samast, to 22 years and 10 months in jail last July. He was 17 when the killing took place.

The Dink case has been closely followed by the European Union as it underlined concerns over EU-candidate Turkey's human rights record and democratic credentials.

After the verdict, 200 people joined members of Dink's family in a march from the court to the place where he was shot dead in central Istanbul, angered that the court did not further examine the alleged role of state officials in the killing.

In a statement ahead of the verdict, Amnesty International said authorities had still not investigated the full circumstances behind Dink's murder.

"The Turkish authorities have failed to address state officials' alleged involvement in the killing," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's expert on Turkey. "The security services knew of the murder plot and were in communication with those accused of the murder yet nothing was done to stop it taking place," he said.

Calls by Dink's family to investigate the collusion and negligence of state officials in the murder, have not been heeded, he added. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkish authorities to pay 100,000 euros to Dink's family in compensation, saying authorities had failed to adequately protect Dink even though they knew ultra nationalists were plotting to kill him.

Seven security officials have been convicted for their failure to relay information of the plot that could have prevented the murder.

Dink had angered nationalists with articles on Armenian identity and references to a Turkish "genocide" of Christian Armenians in 1915. He was repeatedly prosecuted for insulting "Turkishness."