By BosNewsLife News Center
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (BosNewsLife)– A court in Istanbul has sentenced the main suspect in the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink to 22 years imprisonment.
Dink, the editor of a bilingual newspaper, was shot dead four years ago near his office in the city.
He had angered nationalists with articles referring to a Turkish ‘genocide’ of predominantly Christian Armenians in 1915. The Turkish government has denied any genocide took place, claiming the killings occurred amid widespread unrest.
Suspect Ogun Samast was 17 and unemployed at the time of Dink’s assassination.
Another court is hearing the cases against two other main suspects in the conspiracy and a handful of others accused of being linked to the plot, trial observers said.
Eyten Mahcupyan, who became editor of Agos, praised the court for being ‘courageous enough to go with the evidence, and not go down an ideological path.
He told reporters it it would set an example to another court hearing the Dink conspiracy cases, a sentiment echoed by a lawyer for Dink’s family. “Ogun Samast and other suspects were not expecting this sentence,” lawyer Fethiye Cetin said in published remarks. “This is very important to deter this sort of crime.”
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had failed to protect the journalist, after being warned that ultra-nationalists planned to kill him.
Turkey is seeking membership of the European Union and is also under pressure to improve protection of its Christian minority.
Earlier this year, a Turkish ordered five military officers and two civilians jailed as part of an investigation into the 2007 killings of three Christians at a Bible-publishing house.
It was not clear what role the suspects played in murdering Turkish citizen Necati Aydin and German Tilman Geske who were found tied to chairs by their hands and legs with their throats cut in Zirve Publishing Company, where they worked.
A second Turkish citizen, Ugur Yuksel, died later in hospital from multiple stab wounds. All three were members of the evangelical oriented Malatya Kurtulus Church.
The detentions of the seven suspects Monday, March 21, pending trial, came after prosecutors reportedly examined an earlier letter by a whistle-blower who claimed killing Christians was part of a wider conspiracy to topple the Islamic rooted government.