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Hrant Dink murder was an organized crime

The murder case of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has gone to square one with the Supreme Court of Appeals decision on May 15 overturning previous decisions absolving suspects of any connection to armed criminal organizations, ruling instead that they are members of such groups.  The ruling opens the way to the retrial of suspects on charges related to the formation of an armed crime organization. The court stated that the “organization” was formed “with the purpose of committing a crime.”  However, Dink’s legal team will object to the decision that defines the current formation as “an organization formed to commit crimes” instead of an “armed terrorist organization,” according to lawyer Bahri Belen, who told the Hürriyet Daily News that the decision failed to note the suspects’ political nature.  “The Supreme Court says there is an organization, but not of a political nature,” Belen said. “It is important to define the organization. The Supreme Court decision holds murder similar to a debt and checks gang, whereas there is a long process that starts with the McDonalds bombing
to the Dink murder. The legal definition is wrong, since this is an act of terror, committed not by an ordinary criminal organization, but by a political organization.”

The court decision points at a contract for the crime rather than an organization, Deputy MP Bekir Bozdağ said during an Ankara meeting.

Yasin Hayal, who was convicted of instigating the Dink murder, was also convicted of detonating a bomb outside a Trabzon McDonalds in 2004.

Belen said the upcoming new legal procedures following their objection and additional indictments would proceed faster than the initial stages.

The court also decided to hear a case into accusations that Hayal threatened Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, in addition to overturning his conviction of membership in a criminal organization.

The acquittal of Hayal’s brother, Osman Hayal, on charges of aiding murder was also overturned due to incomplete investigations, according to the court.

The court also overruled six charges against Erhan Tuncel for deliberately inflicting injury in the Trabzon bombing, demanding the increased charge of attempted murder. Tuncel was also tried in the Dink murder as a suspected instigator and was also employed by Engin Dinç, who was later called on to testify during the Dink murder trial.

The court also overruled acquittals for Silah Hacısalihoğlu, Zerney Abidin Yavuz and Tuncay Uzundal on charges related to membership in an armed terror organization, while approving a sentence against Ahmet İskender for aiding murder.

Dink was assassinated in Istanbul in January 2007 by Ogün Samast, a 17-year old Turkish nationalist, in front of the offices of Agos, the weekly for which he was the editor-in-chief.

After two years of proceedings, Samast was convicted on July 25, 2011, of premeditated murder and illegal possession of a firearm by Istanbul’s Juvenile Court for Serious Crimes and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months in prison. Following a five-year trial, the court ruled on Jan. 17, 2012, that it saw no “deep state” role in the plotting of the assassination, despite serious claims that a number of civil servants were involved.

Vercihan Ziflioğlu from Istanbul contributed to this report.

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