Ombudsman under fire for his verdict on Dink

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Pressure is mounting for Turkey’s newly elected first ombudsman to resign amid criticism from the family of slain Turkish journalist of Armenian origin Hrant Dink.

Mehmet Ömeroğlu, a retired member of the Supreme Court of Appeals, is under pressure for his role in an appeals court verdict. He was one of the judges who approved the late Dink’s sentence under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which outlaws “publicly insulting the Turkish nation,” in July 2006.

Dink was assassinated on Jan. 19, 2007, after a long prosecution process on the grounds of Article 301, which was changed by the Turkish Parliament after his assassination.

Dink’s brother Hosof Dink said the appeals court verdict was the late journalist’s death sentence. “Instead of calling those who gave this verdict to account, they are rewarded,” he said.

Ömeroğlu was elected by Parliament as Turkey’s first chief ombudsman on Nov. 27.

The retired judge responded to the criticisms about the controversial Dink verdict, saying he was not even aware that the name in that case was “Hrant” since it was written as “Fırat,” Dink’s official name in the registered documents, according to a daily Radikal report on Nov 30.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also called for Ömeroğlu’s resignation. “Under these circumstances, we can say the ombudsman body in Turkey was stillborn,” CHP deputy Atilla Kart said Nov. 30.

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