The family of an ethnic Armenian journalist gunned down earlier this year is suing a senior Turkish general for having allegedly called him a traitor, their lawyer told AFP Wednesday.
Lawyer Fethiye Cetin alleged that General Dursun Ali Karaduman, the commander of the paramilitary force in the northern province of Giresun, had called Hrant Dink a traitor in a speech in April, even though he did not mention his name.
The 52-year-old Dink, a prominent member of Turkey's tiny Armenian minority, was shot dead in January in central Istanbul. He had earned the hatred of nationalists for branding the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide, a label that Ankara fiercely rejects. Dink received a suspended six-month jail sentence last year for "insulting Turkishness."
In a speech General Karaduman made at the funeral of a soldier killed by separatist Kurdish rebels, he deplored what he saw as Western indifference to the victims of the Kurdish insurgency in southeast Turkey. "The U.S. Senate, the French Parliament, the European Parliament and Armenia have not condemned those who killed you..." he was quoted as having said in the family's application to the court.
"They issue condemnations only when traitors are killed," he reportedly said.
Lawyer Cetin said it was "obvious" the general was referring to Dink. The general had also recited a poem at the funeral of another soldier in June, which denounced the outpouring of international condemnations following Dink's murder, she said.
Dink's family would not seek a jail term for the general or a financial compensation, said Cetin. They would ask the court to rule that his remarks were "unlawful, racist and provocative" and publish the ruling in major newspapers, she explained.
The trial of Dink's self-confessed teenage murderer and 17 other suspects, most of them young people from the northern city of Trabzon, begins on July 2. Dink's family has called for an expansion of the investigation into his death. They say that the police prepared the ground for the murder by failing to act on several intelligence notes about a plot to kill Dink being organized in Trabzon.