Middle East

Turkey frees key suspect in Armenian journalist murder

A poster bearing a picture of Hrant Dink and a Turkish flag are pictured in front of the Caglayan Law Court during the retrial of the man accused of instigating the 2007 murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Turkey, along with 18 other suspects, on December 3 ,2013 in Istanbul. AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court on Friday released a former informant accused of instigating the 2007 murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, local media reported.

The release of Erhan Tuncel was made possible by a change in the country's anti-terrorism laws that reduced the maximum pre-trial detention period from 10 years to five years, Hurriyet newspaper said.

The ruling came a day after the country's top court ruled that the legal rights of former army chief Ilker Basbug, who was convicted over an alleged coup plot, were violated due to his long pre-trial imprisonment.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the measure could pave the way for the release of at least 150 defendants, including hundreds of military officers who were given long jail terms for plotting to overthrow the Turkish government.

Turkey has long been criticised for its anti-terrorism laws, whose broad wording has led to the jailing of hundreds, including journalists, politicians and academicians.

Tuncel, arrested last September, is currently being retried over the high-profile killing of Dink in Turkey's largest city after initially being acquitted of all charges in 2012.

Dink was shot to death on a busy street outside the offices of his bilingual Agos newspaper in downtown Istanbul.

His assassination sent shockwaves through Turkey and grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces knew of a plot to kill Dink, but failed to act.

Backing up widespread accusations of a state conspiracy, Tuncel claimed in December that he had informed the police of the plan, but that his warnings went unheeded.





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