Can Dündar
In this October 6, 2020 photo, Can Dündar, the former chief editor of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, addresses a press conference on Turkish democracy in Berlin, where he lives in exile. The man who attempted to attack him in 2016 has been sentenced to a delayed prison term. (AFP/Odd Andersen)

Assailant of Turkish journalist Can Dündar convicted over 2016 attack, but sentence delayed

On July 8, 2021, a Turkish court sentenced Murat Şahin, who attempted to shoot journalist Can Dündar in a 2016 incident in Istanbul that left journalist Yağız Şenkal injured, to a delayed prison term and monetary fine, according to news reports.

The 28th Istanbul Court of First Instance found Şahin guilty of several charges, including “threatening [Dündar] with a weapon,” “intentional injury” to Şenkal, and “carrying an unregistered weapon,” according to those reports. In addition to imposing a fine 500 Turkish lira (US$57), the court sentenced Şahin to three years, one month, and 15 days in prison, citing his “good behavior” during the trial. However, the court delayed the execution of his sentence, allowing him to remain free unless he commits another crime in the next five years, those reports said.

Şahin claimed during the trial that while he did attempt to attack Dündar, he injured Yağız by mistake. He argued that he should be acquitted but he did not offer a reason why, those reports said.

Sabri Boyacı and Habip Ergün Celep, the other two suspects in the case who were tried as a lookout and an instigator, were acquitted due to lack of evidence, the reports said.

The ruling was part of a retrial, after Şenkal’s lawyers appealed the original verdict in 2018, which had sentenced Şahin to 10 months in prison and imposed a 4,500 lira (US$750 at the time) fine, as CPJ documented. Boyacı and Celep were acquitted in that trial as well, according to reports.

Şahin attacked Dündar, former chief editor at the daily Cumhuriyet, in front of the Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse on May 6, 2016, CPJ has documented. Şenkal, an NTV reporter, was hit by a stray bullet. Şahin was arrested and imprisoned for six months after the attack.

Dündar received CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2016.