MEDIA MONITORING DATABASE
Hrant Dink Murder Case
RELATED PERSON OR INSTITUTION
Hrant Dink
CITY
İstanbul
YEAR OF INTERFERENCE
2007
LAST UPDATED
05/05/2022
TYPE OF STATEMENT
Political
MEDIUM
Print Media
Newspaper
THE TITLE OF WHOSE RIGHT IS INTERFERED
Editor / Editor-In-Chief
RIGHTS GUARANTEED UNDER THE RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Right to Impart Information and Ideas
TYPE OF INTERFERENCE
Third-Party Interference
Physical Interference

The trial regarding the murder of journalist and the editor-in-chief of the Agos newspaper, Hrant Dink, is continuing. The next hearing will be held on 26 November.

The court have had separated the cases of 17 defendants out of 85, in order to render a judgement on their involvement in the crime before the statute of limitation. 9 defendants were found guilty and sentenced at the trial held on 17 July.

For detailed information:

Murder and the Trial Process

6 February 2004 – The allegations regarding Sabiha Gökçen was an Armenian Orphan

It was claimed that Sabiha Gökçen, who was the first woman war pilot according to the articles published on Agos Newspaper by Armenian Hrispine Gazalyan born in Antep, was one of the first adopted Armenian children after the genoside

22 April 2004 – Statement from the General Staff

the General Staff issued an extremely harsh statement against these articles while making it very clear where the boundaries of the freedom of the press ends and where the duties of Turkish citizens and organisations begin. The individuals and organisations who received this message started acting from the next day onwards.

24 April 2004 – Dink was threatened by two MIT officials

Right after this statement Hrant Dink was summoned to İstanbul Governorate.The meeting was held in the office of Ergun Güngör, the Deputy Governorresponsible for carrying out procedures related to minority issues, and was attended by two intelligence officers; the meeting was described by Hrant Dink as the beginning of an operation that aimed to teach him a lesson and in his article he wrote ‘Now I was the target’.

25 February 2004 – Dink put on trial for violation of Article 301.

A civil engineer named Mehmet Soykan was taking legal action” against Dink due an article penned by Dink on 13 February 2004 of “insulting Turkishness” over TCK Article 301.

26 February 2004 – The gathering in front of Agos against Hrant Dink

A group of ultra-nationalists led by Levent Temiz, head of an ultra-nationalist youth group, gathered in front of the AGOS building and chanted slogans against Dink and threatened him.

October 2005 – Article 301

On 7 October 2005, Hrant Dink was convicted to a six-months sentence by the Sisli Court of Second Instance in Istanbul and the execution of the prison sentence was suspended. He had been charged for an article published in Agos in which he discussed the impact on present day Armenian diaspora of the killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman army in 1915-17. Almost a century later, the issue remains a fraught one, with several countries calling on Turkey to recognise the events as a genocide. Turkey rejects this, saying that the deaths occurred during a civil war during which Turks were also killed.

The court highlighted a phrase in his article that asked Armenians to reject “the adulterated part of their Turkish blood”, and accused Dink of “insulting Turkish identity”. Dink explains that he has written a series of articles that focused on Armenian identity and were “a special call to the Armenians in Diaspora who are getting poisoned by their anger towards the Turks”. He says that his aim is to alleviate the tensions between Turkey and Armenia. Dink is appealing against the conviction.

2 February 2006 – Threatening Letter

Posted from Bursa, gravely concerned Dink and seemed to be an imminent threat; even though Hrant Dink took the letter to the Şişli District Attorney, no action has been taken. On this letter, it was written that ‘…first we kill your son, then you’

15 February 2006 – The act of killing was in the Intelligence Reports

Yasin Hayal started to say he would kill Hrant Dink, and began sharing these plans with the people around him and also with Erhan Tuncel. When Erhan Tuncel notified the situation to the officials of the Intelligence Division of the Trabzon PD, a letter dated 17.02.2006 was sent to the Intelligence Unit of Ankara PD and the Intelligence Division of the Istanbul PD.

19 February 2007 – Hrant Dink was killed

Hrant Dink was killed on 19 January 2007 with bullets fired to his neck in front of the AGOS Newspaper.

The suspect, who was identified on the day of the murder and whose image was captured by the camera recordings killed him with three bullets. The picture of the suspect was circulated via press. He was Ogün Samast who was at the age of 17 at that time.

Ogün Samast was captured in Samsun with a joint operation of the National Police and the Gendarmerie on his way to Trabzon from Istanbul. He was taken from the Gendarmerie station to Samsun Police Directorate.

In his first interrogation, Samast said he had committed the murder on the orders of Yasin Hayal. Hayal’s name was involved in the Mc Donalds bombing in Trabzon in 2004. He was sentenced to 6 years and 8 months of imprisonment and 11 months later he was released pending trial.

After Samast’s statement, Hayal was detained in Trabzon. He said that he planned the murder together with Erhan Tuncel. Police detained 12 people including Erhan Tuncel. Tuncel appeared to be an informant for the Trabzon Police Department.

Yasin Hayal, Ogün samast, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz, Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet İskender were arrested on January 24, 2007.

Ogün Samast was brought to Samsun Yeşilkent Police Station when he was caught. A few days later, Samast’s photographs with the police and the Turkish flag were revealed and caused widespread debate as whether public officials had a role in Dink’s murder.

Trial Process

2 July 2007

In the first hearing, police informant Erhan Tuncel stated that he had informed the intelligence personnel about the murder. In the second hearing, the reports Erhan Tuncel mentioned was received by the court. Starting from the second hearing, it has been known that Veysel Şahin, an officer from Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence Branch, was one of the most important names in the investigation, which still continues today. Şahin was arrested 9 years after the murder.

March 2008

Trabzon Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Trabzon Gendarmerie personnel, including Gendarmerie Regiment Commander Ali Öz. It took 9 years to arrest Öz and the other officers.

14 September 2010 – ECtHR convicted Turkey

he state had neglected to provide protection for Hrant Dink despite known threats and state officials must share responsibility in the assassination for ignoring the known threats. The ECtHR also targeted the Istanbul and Trabzon Security Departments for being negligent, as they failed to prevent the assassination despite being aware of an imminent plan for the murder. Following the ECtHR verdict, the lawyers for the Dink family demanded that 30 bureaucrats from the Istanbul and Trabzon government offices, as well as the National Intelligence Organization, also be questioned and charged. The court turned down the request (source).

17 Ocak 2012 – The first decision

Hrant Dink murder trial was concluded at 25th hearing after 5 years.

Yasin Hayal was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment on charge of premeditated murder. Salih Hacısalihoğlu was sentenced to 2 months and 15 days of imprisonment for possessing unlicensed bullet; Erhan Tuncel was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months of imprisonment over MC Donald’s incident; Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet İskender were sentenced to 12 years and 6 months of imprisonment for aiding premeditated murderİ Ahmet İskender was sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment over unlicensed gun. The court discharged Tuncel ordered the time he served of imprisonment. Osman Hayal acquitted.

18 January 2012 – Erdoğan’s statement

The-then Prime Minister Erdoğan stated that:

“Public conscience is not at peace at the moment but there could be no other penalty against the perpetrator. Since there is no capital punishment, there is no punishment heavier than aggravated life imprisonement. The state with the legislation mad the required studies. The legislation too is an element of the state. ‘About this matter, we as the executive power did what we were told. All sorts of demands from detention process to afterwards processes were met”

20 January 2012 – DDK report: The state has admitted

Inspecting the assassination against Hrant Dink upon President Abdullah Gül’s request, the State Supervisory Council completed its studies, which started on January 28, 2011. The DDK concluded that ‘There is severe fault of public service in protection of Dink’s right to live’

21 April 2012

Penalty of 22 years and 10 months of imprisonment on charges of ‘premeditated murder’ and ‘possesing unlicenced gun’ was finalized for hitman Ogün Samast, who was tried by 2nd Child Heavy Penal Court.

15 March 2013: Supreme Court revoked the verdict

Supreme Court revoked the verdict of acquittal issued for Yasin Hayal, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz and Tuncay Uzundal over ‘terror group administration’ demanding they be charged with ‘forming and managing a group that was organised with the intention to commit crime’. Furthermore, the court ruled revoke of acquittal decision of Erhan Tuncel issued over ‘incitement to willfull murder’ on the ground that the suspect contributed to the crime, which necessitates conviction.

17 September 2013 – Dink Trial restarts

Following the revoke decision of Supreme Court 9th Penal Chamber about Hrant Dink case, the trial restarted

December 2014 – Investigation against civil servant

Prosecutor Gökalp Kökçü was tasked in December 2014 with investigation Dink murder. The prosecutor Kökçü prepared an indictment for 26 civil servants including then Istanbul Security Director of Celallettin Cerrah, Former EGM Intelligence Bureau President Sabri Uzun, Trabzon former provincial Security Intelligence Bureau President Engin Dinç. Some civil servants including Ali Fuat Yılmazer, Ramazan Akyürek and Ercan Demir were arrested as part of the investigation launched during period in which the investigations and operations against Gülen Community intensified.

September 2015

In the investigation launched into the civil servants, it came to light that there was new evidence in the file. Some reports were saved in a computer in Trabzan Security Directorate Intelligence Bureau. Furthermore, it was determined through phone recordings that there were some gendermeria officers near Dink’s house before the murder. The fact that there were six civil servants watching the hitman Samast at the scene entered the investigation file.

11 December 2015

Supreme court 12th Penal Chamber revoked the decisions of sentencing Colonel Ali Öz and Lieutenant Commander Metin Yıldız each to 6 months of imprisonment over ‘neglect of duty’, sentencing noncommissioned officers Hüseyin Yılmaz, Okan Şimşek and sergeant majors Hacı Ömer Ünalır and Veysel Şahin to each four months of imprisonment, and acquittal of noncommissioned officer Gazi Günay and Sergeant Major Önder Araz due to lack of evidence. The chamber ruled that the suspects had to be also charged with ‘forgery of official documents by civil servants’

19 December 2015

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued decision of non-prosecution for 24 civil servants as to the murder of Hrant Dink. The indictment prepared by the Prosecutor Kökçü was accepted after it was sent to court twice. The prosecutor Kökçü divided gendarmerie file in his indictment. The investigations carried out against Gülen community in the wake of July 15, 2016 have spread to Dink investigation. The gendarmerie investigation continues.

27 January 2016

The lawsuit filed at İstanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court into the civil servants has been combined with the main suit.

19 April 2016 – The civil servants are in the dock in the Dink Trial

Combined with the lawsuit, the lawsuit against the civil servants started. 35 suspects among whom Celalettin Cerrah, Ahmet ilhan Güler, Sabri Uzun, Engin Dinç, Ali Fuat Yıimazer, Ramazan Akyürek, Reşat Altay, Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu, Muhittin Zenit, Mehmet Ayhan, Hamdi Egbatan, Osman Gülbel, şükrü Yıldız, Mehmet Ali Özkılınç, Ali Poyraz, Tamer Bülent Demirel, Erhan Tuncel, Yasin Hayal Ogün Samast, Ersin Yolcu and Osman Hayal are being tried in suit.

April 2017

The third indictment regarding the murder was filed. Focusing on the “FETÖ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization) connection”, the indictment said that the murder of Dink “was a beginning act to bring a new order that is based on Fethullah Gülen’s deviant religious beliefs.”

The indictment was combined with the main case in June.

October 2017

Five defendants, all of whom are security officers, were released.

September 2018

Members of the court board were changed upon an order by the The Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) on September 19.

December 2018

In the last hearing that was held on December 21, the court ruled for the release of defendants Hamza Celepoğlu and Yavuz Karakaya, both of whom are former military officers.

After these releases, four arrested defendants left in the case: Former intelligence officers Ali Fuat Yılmazer, Ramazan Akyürek, Muharrem Demirkale and journalist Ercan Gün

June-July 2019 – The prosecutor requested all the imprisoned defendants to remain behind bars

The prosecutor requested all the imprisoned defendants to remain behind bars. He also requested the files of Ahmet İskender, Erhan Tuncel, Ersin Yolcu, Osman Hayal, Salih Hacıalioğlu, Tuncay Uzundağ, Yasin Hayal, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz and Ogün Samast all of whom might be accused of crimes for which the statue of limitation might expire to be separated. He requested the case file to be sent to the Prosecutor’s Office before he presents his final opinion.

On July 2019, Verdicts on nine defendants whose files were separated from the main trial of the killing of Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Agos newspaper, have been announced.

Erhan Tuncel has been sentenced to 99 years, Yasin Hayal has been sentenced to 7 years and 6 months, Ogün Samast has been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of imprisonment. The main trial of the public officials will continue.

February 2020 – Rejection of the request for release

At the 103rd hearing held on February 18, the witness of Adem Sağlam, the Deputy Director of the TEM Provincial Directorate of Security of the Province of Trabzon, and Ahmet Selim Akyıldız, the Head of the TEM Department of the Directorate of Security, gave their statements through SEGBİS. At the 104th hearing, firstly, the Gendarmerie Commander Serdar Yücel, who received Samast when he came to Samsun bus station, and at the 105th hearing, Yakup Kürşat Yılmaz, who received a 66-year prison sentence and the Istanbul Gendarmerie Command Far-Right Tim Commander Serkan Özel as a witness gave their depositions. Following the completion of the statements, the court announced its interim decision and decided to continue the detention of defendants Ali Fuat Yılmazer, Ramazan Akyürek, Muharrem Demirkale and Ercan Gün.

The court partially accepted the request for the lifting of judicial control over the former Trabzon Provincial Gendarmerie Commander Ali Öz and refused the request of an expert report on the HTS records of the Dink Family Lawyer, Hakan Bakırcıoğlu. The court, which was expected to reconsider the decision of hearing of the MIT officials,  did not make a decision on this matter. The dates of the next hearing are set as 12-13 and 14 May (20 February).

In the last hearing held in May, it was stated that the relevant submission was made about the preparation of the witnesses to be heard at the following hearings, but the hearing of the witnesses could not be held at the predetermined dates considering the decisions of HSK under Covid-19. The court decided to the continuation of the imprisonment of defendants. The hearing was adjourned until 7-8-9 July (12 May).

Over three days (7-8-9 July), the court ruled the continuation of imprisonment of 4 defendants (Yılmazer, Akyürek, Demirkale & Gün). The court also ruled to hear former National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Istanbul Bureau Chief as a witness at the next hearing. The next hearing will be held on September 16 (9 July).

At the hearing held on September 16, the hearing was presided by judge Akın Gürlek as the court board was charged in the 107th hearing on July 7.

Hakan Bakırcıoğlu, the attorney of the Dink family, requested the withdrawal of the court’s decision to not hear the MİT officials who met Hrant Dink at the Governor’s Office of İstanbul in 2004.

Announcing the ruling after the recess, the court has reversed its previous decision to hear Ahmet Köksoy and rejected all requests of the intervening party. It has also ruled that the case file shall be sent to the prosecutor’s office so that an opinion as to the accusations can be prepared.

The next hearing of the case will be held on November 24, 25 and 26, 2020, when the defenses as to the accusations are expected to be heard (15 September).

At the hearing expected to be held on November 24, 25 and 26, it was seen that the prosecutor had not added his opinion as to the accusations to the case file. Indicating that the opinion as to the accusations that the court had requested from the prosecutor’s office was not added to the file, Presiding Judge Akın Gürlek heard the requests of the parties. Muhammed İkbal Anar, the prosecutor of the hearing, requested additional time to prepare the opinion on the grounds of the scope of the file.

While Ercan Gün on remand requested his release, Özkan Mumcu requested that the obligation to give signature and judicial control measures be lifted. Ecevit Emre requested that his international travel ban be lifted.

The court board ruled that the requests for release and lifting the judicial control measures should be concluded between the hearings. The board also ruled that the prosecutor should be given additional time till the next hearing to prepare the opinion as to the accusations. In the event that the opinion was submitted between the hearings, the parties should be given time to prepare their statements as to the accusations without waiting for the day of the hearing, the court board ruled further. The next hearing will be held on December 15, 2020 (November 25).

At the 10-minute hearing held on December 15, prosecutor Muhammed İkbal Anar repeated the opinion as to the accusations that he had presented to the file on December 14.

Hakan Bakırcıoğlu, one of the attorneys for the Dink family, indicated that the trial had been going on for four years and demanded 2 to 2.5 months time to prepare and present their statements so that the case file could be comprehensive. Disregarding the request of the attorney, Presiding Judge Akın Gürlek has ruled that the next hearing shall be held on December 17 (December 15).

On December 17, 2020, Bakırcıoğlu, an attorney for the Dink family, said that they would not make a statement as to the accusations as the two-day time given by the court board was not sufficient. The court board adjourned the trial until December 22 after the defendants made their defense (December 17).

The İstanbul Security Directorate announced that Trabzon Provincial Gendarmerie Commander Ali Öz and İstanbul Provincial Gendarmerie Command Intelligence Branch officers Ecevit Emir and Emre Cingöz attempted to flee to Georgia after the opinion as to the accusations had been pronounced (December 24).

On January 6, 2021, after the defendants made their statements as to the accusations, the board of the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court ruled that Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence officers Veysal Şahin and Volkan Şahin should be arrested as there was evidence suggesting that they had known about the murder beforehand (January 6).

On January 8, the court board ruled that Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence Branch officer Okan Şimşek should be arrested on the grounds that he had known about the murder beforehand and did not prevent it (January 8).

The court board was expected to announce the ruling at the hearing on March 5, 2021; however, Presiding Judge Akın Gürlek announced that the ruling would be handed down later as one of the judges from the court board did not attend the hearing for reasons of health. The next hearing will be held on March 26 (March 5).

March 26, 2021 – Final hearing

At the hearing of the 77-defendant trial held on March 26, 2021, no ruling could be handed down for one defendant as he had lost his life. The files of 13 defendants have been separated as their defense statements could not be taken. 37 defendants in total have been acquitted while 26 defendants have been convicted. Four defendants have been sentenced to life imprisonment and two defendants have been given an aggravated life sentence. The court board has ruled that the arrest of six defendants shall continue and six defendants shall be arrested as per the ruling.

26 people sentenced to prison

26 defendants have been sentenced to prison:

  • Ercan Gün has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “being the member of an armed terrorist organization”
  • Abdullah Dinç has been sentenced to 6 years, 3 months in prison on charge of “being the member of an armed terrorist organization”
  • Ahmet Faruk Aydoğdu has been sentenced to 6 years, 3 months in prison on charge of “being the member of an armed terrorist organization”
  • Hasan Durmuşoğlu has been sentenced to 12 years, 6 months in prison on charge of “negligent act” and to 3 years, 9 months in prison for “destroying official document” while other charges dropped due to violation of statutory limitations
  • Bekir Yokuş has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “aiding the act of killing”
  • Önder Araz has been sentenced to 3 years, 9 months in prison on charge of “destroying official document”
  • Şükrü Yıldız has been sentenced to 3 years, 9 months in prison on charge of “knowingly and willingly aiding the organization without being a part of its hierarchical structure” while other charges dropped due to violation of statutory limitations
  • Metin Balta has been sentenced to 6 years, 8 months in prison on charge of “being the member of an armed terrorist organization”
  • Mehmet Uçar has been sentenced to 3 years, 9 months in prison on charge of “destroying official document” while acquitted of other charges
  • Mehmet Ali Özkılıç has been sentenced to 7 years, 6 months in prison for “being the member of an armed terrorist organization” and to 1 year, 18 months in prison for “favoring the criminal”
  • Osman Gülbel has been sentenced to 16 years, 8 months in prison on charge of “deliberate killing with negligent act”
  • Yakup Kurtaran has been sentenced to 7 years, 6 months in prison on charge of “being the member of an armed terrorist organization
  • Yavuz Karakaya has been sentenced to life imprisonment on charge of “attempting to overthrow the Constitutional order” and to 12 years, 6 months in prison on charge of “killing by using another person”
  • Mehmet Ayhan has been sentenced to 12 years, 6 months in prison on charge of “deliberate killing with negligent act” and to 3 years, 9 months in prison on charge of “destroying official document”
  • Onur Kaya has been sentenced to 12 years, 6 months in prison for “deliberate killing with negligent act” and to 3 years, 9 months in prison on charge of “destroying official document”
  • Faruk Sarı has been sentenced to 12 years, 6 months in prison on charge of “deliberate killing with negligent act” and to 3 years, 9 months in prison on charge of “destroying official document”
  • Muharrem Demirkale has been sentenced to life imprisonment for “killing by using another person” and to life imprisonment on charge of “attempting to overthrow the Constitutional order”
  • Okan Şimşek has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on charge of “killing by using another person” and to 3 years, 4 months in prison on charge of “forgery of official documents.
  • Veysal Şahin has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on charge of “killing by using another person” and to 3 years, 4 months in prison on charge of “forgery of official documents.
  • Gazi Günay has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on charge of “killing by using another person” and to 3 years, 4 months in prison on charge of “forgery of official documents.
  • Özkan Mumcu has been sentenced to 7 years in prison on charge of “being the member of an armed terrorist organization”
  • Ali Fuat Yılmazer has been sentenced to aggravated life sentence for “killing by using another person” and 4 years, 6 months in prison on charge of “destroying official document”
  • Ramazan Akyürek has been sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment on charge of “killing by using another person”, to 5 years, 7 months, 15 days in prison on charge of “destroying official document” and to 7 years, 6 months in prison for “forgery of official documents”
  • Metin Yıldız has been sentenced to 3 years, 4 months in prison on charge of “forgery of official documents”
  • Aliz Öz has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on charge of “killing by using another person” and to 3 years, 4 months in prison on charge of “forgery of official documents”
  • Volkan Şahin has been sentenced to 12 years, 6 months in prison on charge of “deliberate killing with negligent act”.

37 people acquitted

The following defendants have been acquitted:

Adem Sarıgöl, Adnan Acar, Atilla Güçlüoğlu, Muhammer Ay, Metehan Kadir Yıldırım, Niyazi Malkoç, Cevat Eser, Rahmi Özer, Resul Kütükoğlu, Tevfik Cantürk, Ünsal Gürel, Ecevit Emir, Emre Cingöz, Hacı Şefik Şimşek, Eyüp Temel Ahmet Çetiner, Birol Ustaoğlu, Sabri Uzun, Hüseyin Yılmaz, Ali Poyraz, Mikdat Özbek, Hamdi Egbatan, Mustafa Küçük, Ergün Yorulmaz, Musa Yıldırım, Hacı Ömer Ünalır, Reşat Altay, Ali Barış Sevindik, Murat Bayrak, Tamer Bülent Demirel, Yusuf Bozca, Yüksel Avan, Hamza Celepoğlu, Engin Dinç, Ercan Demir, Ahmet İlhan Güler, Muhittin Zenit.

Files of 13 people separated

The court has also ruled that the warrants against 13 people shall remain in force and their files shall be separated: Fethullah Gülen, Zekeriya Öz, Ekrem Dumanlı, Metin Canbay, Yunus Yazar, Faruk Mercan, Adem Yavuz Arslan, Halil İbrahim Koca, Yılmaz Angın, Mehmet Akif Yılmaz, Ömer Faruk Kartın, Coşgun Çakar and Serkan Şahan.

In the trial of 78 defendants, 6 arrested and 26 convicted, over the assassination of Agos Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Hrant Dink in 2007, the detailed judgement was prounounced on July 14, 2021. 

In its detailed judgement, the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court said that “the so-called investigations carried out in organizational cooperation from the very beginning had been preplanned and put into practice step by step before the related murder was committed by the FETÖ/PDY Armed Terrorist organization members in 2007” (July 14).

May 5, 2022

The 2nd Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice found the verdicts in the case regarding the murder of former Editor-in-Chief of Agos newspaper Hrant Dink lawful and rejected all appeals of both the Dink family’s lawyers and the defendants.