Turkey

Turkish paramilitary police sentenced over Hrant Dink assassination

AFP/Evert-Jan Daniels

A Turkish court Thursday sentenced a group of paramilitary police to between four and six months in jail, for negligence in the case of the 2007 murder of ethnic-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink.

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A colonel and five subordinates, who held key posts in the coastal city of Trabzon, were found to have known that a group of local youths planned the killing but done nothing to stop them.

Two other soldiers were acquitted, the agency reported.

The sentences were the first given to state officials over the 2007 killing, and they were the heaviest that the tribunal could impose.

Lawyers for Dink's family expressed frustration that the case was not heard by a more senior court.

A leading figure in Turkey's tiny Armenian minority, Dink was shot dead outside the office of his Agos newspaper in central Istanbul.

Prosecutors say police received intelligence about the plot as early as 2006.

Trabzon was the home of the self-confessed gunman, aged 17 at the time of the murder, and 18 suspected accomplices, who remain on trial in Istanbul.

Dink campaigned for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians but nationalists hated him for calling the massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire genocide.

Last September, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Turkish authorities had failed to take adequate measures to protect Dink.

Lawyers for Dink's family suspect the gunman was encouraged and protected by elements of the "deep state" – hardline nationalists in the military and civil service - but their efforts to have more officials put on trial have failed to bear fruit.

They have accused police of withholding and destroying evidence to cover up the murder, including footage from a bank security camera in the street where the journalist was gunned down.

More than 100,000 people marched at Dink’s funeral.

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