Turkish intellectuals and politicians called for a fair and transparent ruling Monday in Istanbul as the third hearing began in a case against three alleged killers of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
"This stain must be cleaned so that a Turkey where opinions are no longer judged and those who express them are no longer condemned can exist," said a statement read to journalists near the Besiktas court.
The statement was signed by politicians from various leanings, as well as well-known intellectuals who called for "complete transparence" in a case that is being closely followed by the European Union, which Turkey is looking to join.
On January 19, 2006, 52-year-old Dink was shot outside the office of the weekly publication he ran -- the Turkish-Armenian Agos -- by a 17-year-old boy with close links to Turkish nationalists.
A group calling themselves "The Friends of Hrant Dink" read a statement to a separate crowd of several hundred people in Besiktas. They demanded that justices "do their job correctly and follow this through to the end." The courthouse was surrounded by police as those standing trial arrived in armed police vans.
Dink campaigned for reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, but ran into trouble with the law for articles in which he labeled the 1915-1917 mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire during World War I a "genocide." The journalist was slapped with a suspended sentence of six months in jail under article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which deals with offences that insult Turkishness and is denounced by the EU.
Monday's hearing took place behind doors due to the fact alleged murderer Ogun Samast is a minor. Samast has confessed to the murder and could face up to 42 years in prison. His co-charged, Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, allegedly ordered the attack on Dink and could face life in prison. Sentences ranging from 7.5 to 35 years have already been handed out to 16 others accused in the case.