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Student on trial for threatening publisher with death over coverage of Dink killing

(BIANET/IFEX) - Necati Abay, publisher and spokesperson for the Platform of Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists, wrote an article entitled "Another Journalist Has Been Murdered, the 'Good Kids' killed Hrant Dink" shortly after Dink's murder on 19 January 2007.

Following the publication of the article, 20-year-old Mert Sahin threatened him with death. Sahin was then a student in Akyazi, in the province of Sakarya, east of Istanbul.

Abay received Sahin's threatening email the day after Dink's murder, coming from the email address [email protected] The email read: "If you continue to inform the public by accusing nationalists, your fate will be the same (as Dink's)."

Sahin was subsequently identified as the author of the email and is now facing trial. The first hearing of the case took place on 30 October at the Sultanahmet Eighth Penal Court (Istanbul). Abay and his lawyer, Gülüzar Tuncer, as well as Sahin, who is being tried without detention, were present.

At the hearing, Sahin said that he did not know Abay: "The statement that Abay made after Hrant Dink's murder was sent to me by people I do not know and they demanded that I react to the statement. With my nationalist feelings aroused at the time, I reacted, but my aim was not to threaten."

Tuncer has demanded that the defendant be tried under Articles 106/2-d and 115 for "benefiting from the fear created by criminal organisations that exist or are believed to exist in order to threaten someone" and "obstructing freedom of belief, thought and conviction". She called for a sentence of between three and eight years.

The court said that the Sultanahment Public Prosecution had to decide on the sentence and postponed the next hearing to 6 February 2008.

Abay made a statement in front of court after the hearing, in which he said: "Whoever O.S., the murder suspect of Hrant Dink, is, Mert Sahin, who threatened me, is the same. They are both 'good kids'. [referring to an utterance by now-Chief of Staff Yasar Büyükanit, who defended two officers being tried for the bombing of a bookshop in Semdinli by calling them 'good kids'.] It is not enough to try O.S. and the Mert Sahins, the system which feeds them needs to be tried."

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