Murderer of Turkish-Armenian journalist jailed for 99 years

One of the main suspects facing trial for allegedly taking part in Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s murder in 2007, Erhan Tuncel, has been sentenced to 99 years and six months in prison, critical Sozcu daily reported on Wednesday.

Dink was killed by Ogun Samast, an ultranationalist youngster, in front of his office in Istanbul as part of an attack that made international headlines on January 19, 2007.

While Samast was already sentenced for the murder, a new lawsuit was filed for the sentencing of others who allegedly helped him to mastermind the assassination plot.

Verdicts on nine defendants, whose files were separated from the main trial of the killing of Dink, the founder, and the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Armenian bi-weekly Agos newspaper, were announced on Wednesday.

According to a report by Umit Turk from Sozcu, Tuncel, a former police informant, was sentenced to 99 years and six months in prison for founding and leading a criminal network and also for his part in a bomb blast at a restaurant in Trabzon province.

“Not any service made for the state is left without punishment,” Tuncel said when he was being led out of the courtroom. The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court also sentenced Samast, who already has a sentence of 22 years and 10 months for Dink’s murder, to an additional two years and six months in prison on charges of membership in an armed organization.

Another defendant Yasin Hayal, who was previously sentenced to life in jail for inciting Samast to murder Dink, received seven years and six months for establishing and managing an armed criminal organization.

Suspects Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet Iskender were sentenced to 22 months and 15 days over membership in an armed criminal organization.

The court sentenced Zeynel Abidin Yavuz to 14 years and 22 days in jail on charges that include being a member of an armed organization and helping Samast to kill the Turkish-Armenian journalist with the incitement of Hayal. Tuncay Uzundal received 15 years for assistance to murder and 22 months and 15 days for membership in an armed criminal organization.

The court acquitted the other two suspects Salih Hacisalihoglu and Osman Hayal.

The main trial of the public officials will continue.

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