13:42, 31 Oct 2014

The trial into the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink
has taken a significant turn after the court in Istanbul overseeing
the case announced that it will focus on the "criminal organization"
allegations against suspects, a move that lawyers representing the
victim's family had demanded since the start of the retrial, the
Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Istanbul's 5th High Criminal Court ruled on Oct. 30 in line with
a previous Supreme Court of Appeals decision that overturned the
verdict of the initial trial process, on the grounds that it overlooked
investigating the murder of the renowned editor-in-chief of the weekly
Agos in the context of a planned and organized crime.

According to the decision, the suspects will be retried on charges
of being a member of a criminal organization.

The Supreme Court of Appeals had also overturned the acquittals
of top suspects including Yasin Hayal, who was charged with being
the instigator of the assassination and the "leader of a terrorist
organization." Hayal and other suspects, such as Erhan Tuncel and
Ersin Yolcu, are also being retried.

The triggerman Ogun Samast, who was sentenced to 22 years by a
children's court, is also likely to be tried on new charges, as the
court ruled to associate his case with the main murder trial. Samast
was only 17-years-old when he shot Dink in front of his office in
Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.

However, lawyers have also been wary of the Supreme Court verdict,
as it defined the aim of the murder as a "political act," rather
than an act of terrorism, as they have claimed that an armed terror
organization was behind the killing. For a murder to be considered a
"terrorist act," it would have to be committed with a clear aim against
the state of the public order, according to the Turkish Penal Code.

Lawyers previously said they would try to prove that the activities
of the organization went beyond the assassination of Dink.

The ruling comes only a few days after the Justice Ministry cleared
the path for investigations into nine civil servants, including senior
police officers occupying key posts at the time of the murder, such
as the former Istanbul police chief Celalettin Cerrah. The officers
had been accused of negligence and threatening Dink before his death.

The Friends of Hrant Dink Association hailed the decision in a
statement issued in front of the Istanbul courthouse Oct. 30, while
demanding that the civil servants be charged with "murder."

Dink's lawyers have long been demanded that the investigation should
focus on the "real web of connections" that led to Dink's murder,
while expressing few expectations from the retrial.

The matter was even subject to a review by Turkey's Constitutional
Court, which ruled that the case had not been efficiently investigated
and the rights of Dink's family were violated.