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European Court Rules Turkey Failed to Protect Slain Writer Dink From Plot

Europe’s top court ruled that Turkish authorities failed to protect Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink from a murder plot, or properly investigate his killing.

Dink was shot dead outside his Istanbul office in January 2007. Several people linked to extreme nationalist groups were later charged with the killing in a trial that’s ongoing. Dink had been prosecuted for insulting Turkish identity by writing about the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, which Turkey doesn’t recognize as genocide.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, in a judgment announced on its website today, said that Turkish authorities had failed to take any action to protect Dink when they were given information about the plot against him.

The court also ruled that Turkey didn’t carry out an adequate investigation into this failure, even though some police officers had shown signs of sympathy with Dink’s killers. With the exception of two junior officials, “all the proceedings in which the authorities were implicated had been discontinued,” the court said.

Turkey also breached its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to protect Dink’s freedom of expression before he was killed, the court said.

Turkey has prosecuted several writers and intellectuals for comments about the 1915 killing of Armenians. Many European countries and members of the U.S. Congress have criticized the country for failing to acknowledge the events as genocide.

‘Historical Truth’

Dink was writing “in his capacity as a journalist on an issue of public concern” and as part of a legitimate effort “to seek historical truth,” the court said. By prosecuting him over the articles, Turkish authorities had helped to make Dink “a target for extreme nationalists,” it said.

Turkey was ordered to pay 105,000 euros ($135,000) in compensation to Dink’s widow, children and brother, who brought the case to court. The ruling can be appealed within three months at the ECHR’s Grand Chamber.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Holland in Istanbul at bholland1@bloomberg.net.

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