Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has been remembered at the Istanbul site where he was assassinated 17 years ago, outside the Sebat apartment building where the Agos newspaper, of which he was editor-in-chief, was then based.
Masses gathered at the site where Dink was killed, and remembered the Armenian journalist by silently listening to one of his speeches. “Yes, we do have our eyes set on this land. But not to take it, but to be buried deep in the ground…” Dink had said.
Speaking at the commemoration, Rakel Dink, the journalist’s wife, said:
“17 years later, the murderer who was then 17 years old, is now among you. Just as those who told him to ‘kill’ are amongst you.”
Ogün Samast, who assassinated Dink in a gun attack in front of the Agos office on 19 January 2007, was released from prison in November 2023 under conditional release terms. A minor at the time of the crime, Samast served 16 years and 10 months, sentenced with “premeditated murder” and “possession of an unlicensed firearm”.
Oya Baydar, a sociologist and writer, also addressed the crowd in her speech at the memorial. “The forces of darkness are most afraid of the breaking of taboos and the sight of their dark faces; that’s why they shot Hrant… He would not have been targeted if he had defended weapons and violence,” she said.
Hrant Dink’s assassination and subsequent legal proceedings
Dink was assassinated on 19 January 2007 by 17-year-old Samast. Samast was arrested in Samsun the following day and incarcerated.
The court filed a criminal complaint against Samast and others for membership of the Fethullah Gülen Organisation (FETÖ), the group accused of plotting the 15 July 2016 coup attempt, linking the murder to their objectives.
Several individuals, including journalist Ercan Gün and former soldier Muharrem Demirkale, received varying prison sentences for related crimes. Cases against some former police chiefs were dismissed due to the statute of limitations.
The case involved 130 hearings, with the prosecution presenting its final opinion in December 2020. The prosecutor requested various outcomes for the defendants, including acquittals and punishments. Some defendants were arrested for prior knowledge of the murder, and others denied connections with FETÖ.
Following Dink’s assassination, the suspect was quickly identified from security footage. Controversy arose when images of Samast with police officers were broadcast, raising questions about the involvement of officials in the murder.
At the funeral, Rakel Dink said, “No matter their age, 17 or 27, no matter who the murderer is, I know they were once babies. Nothing can be done, my brothers, without questioning the darkness that turns a baby into a murderer.”