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Three years on, still no convictions in editor's murder

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 19 Jan. 2010 - Three years ago today, a young man approached renowned Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink in an Istanbul street, and shot him dead. Today - two-and-a-half years into the trial of the alleged gunman and his accomplices - justice has yet to be served in the brutal murder.

"The Hrant Dink murder case has been a litmus test for Turkey's justice system, and the system is failing," said IPI Director, David Dadge. "Those who masterminded this despicable crime are currently enjoying total impunity for their actions. Furthermore, Dink's prosecution for insults to Turkey raised his profile as a potential target and endangered his life."

In February 2006, an Istanbul court convicted Dink, the editor-in-chief of bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, under Article 301 on charges of 'denigrating Turkishness' in a 2004 article in which Dink called for an end to animosity between the Armenian diaspora and Turks.

In addition to the 2006 conviction, Turkish courts brought two other prosecutions against Dink on charges related to Article 301.

Dink suffered many threats from Turkish nationalists for his writing on the Armenia issue, and in the investigation that followed his murder, evidence also surfaced that members of Turkey's police force were aware that a plot to kill Dink was in motion.

Dink's alleged killer - who was apprehended two days after the murder and who would later turn out to be a self-professed Turkish nationalist-extremist - is currently standing trial along with several other alleged accomplices.

According to a report issued by the Co-chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee in 2009, a verdict in the trial is expected in the spring of this year, with long prison sentences for those convicted of the shooting. However, the "godfathers" who masterminded the murder are believed to remain at large.

Dink was posthumously awarded IPI's World Press Freedom Hero award in 2007.

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