(Vicky Buffery, Reuters
) - The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Turkish authorities failed to prevent a journalist's assassination even though they knew that ultra-nationalists were plotting his death.
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was gunned down outside his office in January 2007 after receiving death threats from far-right groups over his calls for Turkey to accept its role in the mass killings of Armenians in 1915.
The Strasbourg court said authorities had failed to investigate seriously the threat of an assassination attempt, and ordered them to pay 100,000 euros ($128,700) in compensation to Dink's widow and children.
"The Court took the view that the Turkish security forces could reasonably be considered to have been aware of the intense hostility towards Hrant Dink in nationalist circles," the Court said in its ruling. "None of the three authorities informed of the planned assassination and its imminent realization had taken action to prevent it."
Arzu Becerik, a lawyer for the Dink family, said she hoped the ruling would push Turkey to call those involved to account and to change its tune on human rights and democracy. "We will now apply to the courts for certain public officials to be tried. The government actually needs to take the necessary steps without us having to apply," Becerik told Reuters Television in Istanbul.
Turkey -- People hold placards, reading We Are All Armenian, We are all Hrant Dink, during a silent demonstration near an Istanbul court, 02Jul2007
Turkey's foreign ministry said in an e-mailed statement that it would not appeal against the ruling. "Efforts will be undertaken to meet the clauses in the Dink ruling and all measures will be taken to prevent a repeat of similar violations in the future."
The Dink case, which was brought before the Strasbourg court by members of the journalist's family, has been closely followed by the European Union, which is currently examining Turkey's efforts to join the 27-nation area. Accession negotiations began five years ago, but have moved slowly, due in part to EU concerns over Turkey's human rights record and insufficient democratic reforms.
Prior to his death, Dink, who was editor-in-chief of Turkish-Armenian newspaper "Agos", had been given a suspended jail sentence under article 301 of Turkey's penal code, for insulting "Turkishness" in his writings on the mass killings. However, the Court of Human Rights said that sentence had violated his freedom of expression and made him a target for extreme nationalists.
The chief suspect in Dink's assassination is facing trial in Turkey alongside 18 other suspected accomplices. Another 29 people, including ex-army officers, have been arrested in an investigation into a far-right gang said to be behind a series of killings, including that of Dink.
Turkey was also ordered to pay 5,000 euros to Dink's brother Hasrof Dink and a further 28,595 euros in costs and expenses.