Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Son of Hrant Dink threatened with jail

Agence France Presse-June 14, 2007 Thursday - Prosecutors called Thursday for a prison sentence of up to three years for the son of a murdered Turkish-Armenian journalist for reproducing an interview his father gave confirming the Armenian genocide.

The public affairs ministry accuses Arat Dink, editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, and his colleague Serikis Seropyan, of "denigrating the Turkish national identity".

In a July 2006 edition of Agos, they reproduced an interview Hrant Dink gave to a news agency in which he declared that the massacre of Armenians committed between 1915 and 1917 in southeastern Anatolia constituted a genocide.

"Of course I say this is a genocide. Because the result itself identifies what it is and gives it a name. You can see that a people who have been living on these lands for 4,000 years have disappeared. This is self-explanatory," Hrant Dink, then editor of Agos, had said.

At Thursday's hearing Dink accused judges of contributing to his father's death by making him a target thanks to their high-profile judicial proceedings.

"I think it is primitive, absurd and dangerous to consider as an insult to Turkish identity the recognition of a historic event as a genocide," he said, quoted by the Anatolia news agency.

Prosecutors said he should be sentenced to between six months and three years in jail. Hrant Dink, 52, was himself branded a "traitor" by nationalists for urging open debate on the massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire which he labelled as genocide.

He was last year given a six-month suspended sentence for insulting "Turkishness" and faced more charges before being shot dead in January outside the offices of Agos, where he was editor at the time.

The massacre remains a major bone of contention between Armenia and Turkey and two countries and they have not established diplomatic ties since Armenia broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ogun Samast, 17, has confessed to shooting Dink. He and 18 other accomplices will be tried from the beginning of July over the murder, believed to have been committed with ultra-nationalist motives.

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