Thousands in Turkey Mark Killing of Armenian Journalist

Posted January 19th, 2012 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of people gathered Thursday in Istanbul, Turkey to mark the fifth anniversary of the killing of an ethnic-Armenian journalist.

The crowd protested a court ruling that the murder of Hrant Dink was not part of a wider conspiracy. Demonstrators also denounced what they called fascism in Turkey.

On Tuesday, a Turkish court sentenced Yasin Hayal to life in prison for instigating the shooting of Dink outside his office in January 2007.

The court also acquitted 19 defendants of charges of being part of a terrorist group. That ruling was denounced by lawyers for Dink's family, who say the journalist's murder was a planned act.

Dink was the chief editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos when he was assassinated. He had angered Turkish nationalists by describing the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century as a “genocide.”

Turkey rejects the term and says the collapse of the Ottoman Empire triggered unrest that killed large numbers of Turks, as well as Armenians.

Turkish authorities have prosecuted dozens of people in connection with Dink's assassination, including security personnel accused of ignoring intelligence of ultranationalist plots to kill the journalist.

Last year, a juvenile court in Turkey sentenced ultranationalist Ogun Samast to almost 23 years in prison for the assassination of Dink. Authorities prosecuted Samast as a minor because he was 17-years old at the time of the attack.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkish authorities failed to protect Dink and ordered the government to pay compensation to his family.

The European Union has closely followed the Dink case as it underlines concerns about EU candidate Turkey's human-rights record.