Istanbul, January 9, 2023 – In response to news reports that a Turkish court in the western province of Kocaeli on Monday convicted 10 people for their involvement in the 2022 killing of Güngör Arslan, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement welcoming the progress in his case:
“Turkish authorities should be applauded for their swift action in the trial of the murder of journalist Güngör Arslan,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said, in New York. “While these convictions can provide a measure of peace to Arslan’s family, authorities should not let up their efforts, and should ensure that every person involved in the journalist’s killing is brought to justice.”
Arslan, founder of the local news website Ses Kocaeli, was shot and killed at his office on February 19, 2022.
On Monday, the First Kocaeli Court of Serious Crimes found Ramazan Özkan, the confessed killer, guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to those reports.
The court also convicted defendant Burhan Polat of instigating the murder, and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The court also convicted Ferhat Yıldırım and Hasan Emre Çelik of assisting in a premeditated murder and carrying unlicensed firearms, and sentenced them each to 27 years in prison and a fine of 40,000 liras (US$2,131)
Defendant Ramiz Saatçi was acquitted of a charge of assisting in the murder but was convicted of illegally selling firearms, and received a sentence of seven years and a fine of 40,000 liras. The court also convicted Özgür Taşkıran and Can Yıldırım of assisting a criminal, and sentenced Taşkıran to three years and six months in prison, and Yıldırım to two years and six months, those news reports said.
The court found three other defendants, Erdal Tilki, Yadigar Başyurt, and Erdal Yıldırım, guilty of attempting to destroy or modify criminal evidence, and sentenced them each to two years and three months in prison.
The court acquitted defendants Ersin Kurt, Emrah Yıldırım, Kadir Yıldırım, and Abdullah Yürük, those reports said. Arslan’s daughter, Nazlıcan Arslan, reacted to Kurt’s acquittal on Twitter with disappointment, saying that her “struggle will not end.” CPJ called Kurt’s office for comment but did not receive any reply.
[Editors’ note: This article has been changed in its fifth paragraph to correctly describe Polat, Yıldırım, and Çelik’s convictions.]