Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, slain in January, was officially acquitted in two court cases concluded yesterday at an İstanbul court.
Three other defendants who were facing charges of “insulting Turkishness” and “attempting to influence the judiciary” were also acquitted, though a third similar case opened at a later date will continue.
The two court cases were sent back to a criminal court in the Şişli district after the Court of Appeals ordered a retrial. Retrial of the cases was originally scheduled to begin in February but it was postponed to yesterday, June 14, following Dink’s Jan. 19 assassination by a teenage gunman in downtown İstanbul. Dink, who was the editor of the bilingual Agos daily, was facing charges of insulting Turkishness under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and of attempting to influence the judiciary’s functioning under Article 288 in those two cases.
Two of the defendants, Dink’s son Arat Dink, and Agos editor Serkis Seropyan, appeared in the court for a retrial session of the cases. Lawyers for the defendants demanded acquittal, saying elements of the crime were not in place. The court agreed and acquitted all the defendants in the case.
A similar case in which Dink and other defendants face the same charges of insulting Turkishness was postponed to a later date to allow defense lawyers to prepare their plea.
Dink had become a hated figure for ultranationalists for his comments over an alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire. He called for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and was a sharp critic of the Armenian diaspora for its uncompromising stance against Turkey.
Before his death, Dink had complained that the charges of “insulting Turkishness” against him made him a target of nationalist anger.