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Suspects in journalist Hrant Dink's murder and their lawyer removed from court after anti-Armenian hate speeches, interference with testimony

(BIANET/IFEX) - At the fourth hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial on 25 February 2008, the court finally reacted to the intolerable behaviour of the defendants and their lawyer, Fuat Turgut.

The fourth hearing had brought its usual share of tension, as the defendants and Turgut continued to behave aggressively toward the Dink family and its lawyers.

One of the attorneys representing Dink's family, Kezban Hatemi, told court president Erkan Canak that she was insulted by the accused gunman, O.S., during the hearing.

In another incident, suspect Ersin Yolcu was being cross-examined. He said that O.S. had got on the bus from Trabzon to Istanbul by himself. However, there has been evidence that O.S. did not go alone after all. Nevertheless, police informant and fellow defendant Erhan Tuncel then said to Yolcu, "Don't talk." Yolcu then refused to answer any more questions. As a result, Tuncel was sent out of the courtroom.

Later in the hearing, suspect Yasin Hayal tried to attack another of the attorneys representing Dink's family, Erdal Dogan. Hayal had become angry when Dogan asked suspect Yasar Cihan, from the Great Union Party (BBP), several questions on the McDonald's bombing in Trabzon. Hayal had been implicated in the bombing but was protected by the police.

After his attempted attack on Dogan, Hayal was taken out of the courtroom, too.

Turgut, who is also Hayal's defense lawyer, engaged in a stream of hate speech, saying in front of the court just prior to the commencement of the hearing: "Where is the horde saying 'We are all Armenian'? May Allah unite them all with their Hrants."

During the morning session of the hearing, he said about his client Hayal: "My client is not a murderer, unlike the rabid Armenians." He was given a warning to desist from such comments after that remark, but later said, "Hrant Dink was from TIKKO (the illegal Turkish Workers and Peasants' Liberation Army) and a registered traitor." He also said, "Those defending Armenians are Devsirme (i.e. non-Muslims)."

Hrant Dink's daughter, Delal Dink, finally reacted to Turgut's taunts, protesting to the court: "Enough! When my father was alive he was called an enemy of the Turks and killed. I cannot stand this any longer."

The joint attorneys for the Dink family also argued that the defence lawyers could not be allowed to engage in insults, and protested. Finally, Judge Canak reacted, citing Article 252/F of Criminal Procedure Law, and sent Turgut out of the courtroom.

On 2 July 2007, Turgut had also insulted the Dink family and their joint attorneys before the first hearing began.

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