Turkey: 10,000 Mark Journalist's Death 5 Years On

More than 10,000 protesters marked the fifth anniversary of a Turkish-Armenian journalist's murder on Thursday as outrage continues to grow over a trial which failed to shed light on alleged official negligence or even collusion.

Human rights activists placed red carnations on the spot where Hrant Dink was gunned down in daylight by a teenage gunman in Istanbul, outside of his minority Agos newspaper. Many carried black banners that read: "We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian."

Thousands marched silently for justice, a call shared by Turkish leaders and leading businessmen who expressed unease over this week's sentencing of one man, Yasin Hayal, to life in prison for masterminding the killing, while another 17 were acquitted of charges of acting under a terrorist organization's orders. The court neglected to issue its verdict about a 19th suspect.

The gunman, Ogun Samast, was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison in July.

Turkey's leaders have vowed a thorough investigation into Dink's killing — also signaling dissatisfaction with Tuesday's court ruling by a panel of judges. Dink's lawyers said they will appeal the verdict.

"The conclusion of this case in a transparent and just manner inline with our laws is an important test for us," President Abdullah Gul said on Thursday.

Rustem Eryilmaz — who led the panel of judges — sparked even more fury when he told daily Vatan in an interview published Thursday that even he was not satisfied with the decision, acknowledging that the court had failed to reveal allegations of negligence or collusion between the state and the suspects.

"We could not shed light on what was going on behind the scenes, which is what everyone is curious about," Eryilmaz said. "There must be instigators ... but there is a need for evidence to accept the existence of such from a legal perspective."

Eryilmaz said the judges felt pressure to issue a verdict after the 4-1/2 year trial, and did not have time to examine thousands of telephone conversations at the scene on the day of the assassination.

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