Istanbul: Protesters gather to mark death of murder of Hrant Dink
Istanbul: Protesters gather to mark death of murder of Hrant Dink Reuters

More than 10,000 protesters have marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of a Turkish-Armenian journalist, as controversy surrounding his death continues to grow.

Human rights activists and protesters poured into Istanbul to gather at the spot where Hrant Dink, an advocate for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and human and minority rights in Turkey, was shot dead in January 2007. Dink was murdered in broad daylight by 17-year-old Ogun Samat, who was described as a Turkish nationalist. He was sentenced in July to 23 years in prison.

The anniversary of Dink's death came as Yasin Hayal was sentenced to life for masterminding the killing.

Rights activists denounced the ruling after 17 co-defendants were acquitted of acting in the name of a terrorist organisation in the killing.

In 2006, Dink was prosecuted three times for "denigrating Turkishness" under the Turkish Penal Code after he talked about his ethnic background, the Turkish-Armenian relationship, and called a mass killing of Armenians in 1915 genocide, a term the Turkish government refuses to accept.

He was acquitted the first time, convicted and sentenced to six months suspended the second time, and murdered during the third attempt at prosecution.

Allegations that the Turkish state was involved in the murder have refused to die down, with controversy further amplified by this week's ruling.

"The state's tradition of political assassinations and marginalising its citizens continues," his widow, Rakel Dink, said.

"The Hrant Dink murder trial was an unprecedented opportunity to say, 'never again,' to such killings, but the prosecution didn't want to use the chance."