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HomeExpertsA Judicial Farce: The Unresolved Legacy of the Hrant Dink Murder Case

A Judicial Farce: The Unresolved Legacy of the Hrant Dink Murder Case

Today is January 19, 2024…

17 years ago today, Hrant Dink was cowardly assassinated in front of the Agos newspaper. On the occasion of the memorial program, his family and friends call out in their statement, “When Hrant Dink’s murderer shot him 17 years ago, he was 17 years old. Today, he walks freely among us. Those who ordered the murder that day are still in their positions. A shameful charade was performed under the guise of a trial. The Hrant Dink murder remains a huge stain in the history of this country.”

This event not only exposed the dark corridors of injustice but also brought to light the reality of ‘mock trials’ disguised as justice at the heart of Turkey’s judicial system. As Hrant’s friends said, a shameful charade was displayed under the name of trial, and Ramazan Akyürek and Ali Fuat Yılmazer, the then head of the Intelligence Department targeted by the government, were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, equivalent to the death penalty.

During the investigation into Hrant Dink’s murder, it was revealed that Ali Öz, the then Gendarmerie Commander of Trabzon, tampered with the Gendarmerie archives. Recently released triggerman Ogün Samast’s arrival in Istanbul under the supervision of Gendarmerie personnel was determined through HTS records. The murder was committed under the control of the gendarmerie. The head of Trabzon Police Intelligence at that time was today’s Ankara Police Chief, Engin Dinç. In Istanbul, Ahmet İlhan Güler was serving as the Intelligence Branch Chief. Both failed to perform their duties but were never accused. Instead, they were rewarded. Ramazan Akyürek and Ali Fuat Yılmazer, unrelated to the case in Ankara, were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment. According to experts, there was nothing Akyürek and Yılmazer could have done to prevent this murder! The responsible parties were the first intelligence receivers in Trabzon and the non-performing Istanbul Intelligence and Istanbul Governorship… The governorship received intelligence but did not even provide protection to Dink. What had they done? The deputy governor and two MIT personnel had called Dink to the governorship to warn him!

The murderer of Hrant Dink, triggerman Ogün Samast, was released on November 15, 2023, upon completing his sentence… On one hand, Dink’s family fights to find his killers, on the other, the families of Akyürek and Yılmazer struggle to prove their innocence. Justice, which should be blind to everything but the truth, fails to see the suffering it causes to families by closing its eyes to the truth.

The judiciary, acting upon the political power’s targetting, turned into an execution tool under the guise of a trial. Sham hearings, statements taken just to complete procedures, ignored defenses, evaluations varying from person to person, identified enemies, opponents to be eliminated, intimidation declared before the trial even starts…

Dink’s family says what happened was not a trial but a charade for show. This type of situation is internationally known as a ‘show trial.’

The term “show trial” gained significance in the 20th century, especially in the context of the Soviet Union under Stalin’s rule. The 1930s Moscow Trials, where prominent members of the Communist Party and military leaders were tried for conspiring against the government, are classic examples. These trials were widely publicized and aimed to eliminate Stalin’s political rivals and strengthen his control over the Soviet Union.

At the heart of show trials is the transformation of the judiciary from a tool of justice to a tool of political execution. These trials feature the judiciary acting on political agendas rather than maintaining its independence. In these trials, individuals are targeted by political forces, and both the course and outcome of the legal process are shaped by political powers. The aim of these trials is to serve a dark purpose planned by political forces.

An often-overlooked fact by those not directly involved in show trials is that they cause more harm than just oppressing the targeted individuals. These trials erode public trust in the judicial system and shake the foundations of democracy. When courts become arenas for political vendettas rather than seats of justice, social chaos becomes inevitable.

The fundamental characteristics of these trials are:

  1. The outcome of a show trial is usually predetermined, with the judiciary merely playing out a script written by political powers.
  2. Basic legal procedures are either ignored or manipulated.
  3. Individuals seen as a threat or opposition to the political regime are targeted in these trials. The goal is not just punishment but to send a clear message of intimidation to anyone daring to oppose or challenge the status quo.
  4. One of the most apparent signs of a show trial is the announcement or indication of the outcome before the trial even begins. This is a form of intimidation and a clear indication that the trial is merely for show.

At this point, President Erdoğan’s statement on the T24 news site helps to understand the issue. On July 30, 2014, he said, “To reduce the incident to the Dink case is to belittle it. The Hrant Dink case is, in my opinion, a personalized case.” Then on March 2, 2015, regarding the connection of the Dink murder to the Gülen movement, he said, “In that incident, there’s a deliberately committed murder. It has nothing to do with negligence. As its connections are revealed, this issue will become clearer.” Following this statement, the show trial began, and innocent people were punished according to the planned dark purpose. Those who want to learn the details of the show trial can visit the website https://dinkcaseandfacts.com/ opened by the family of Ramazan Akyürek.

The existence and continuation of such trials are clear proofs that there is no judicial independence and that the rule of law cannot be discussed. For the scales of justice to be balanced fairly and justly for everyone, especially those seeking justice, there must always be vigilance against the transformation of legal systems into tools for political purposes.

It must not be forgotten that this struggle and determination are not only for exonerating those unjustly accused but also for ensuring that justice is never again denied.

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Nurullah Albayrak is lawyer and columnist at TR724.com

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