Sevag Balıkçı, an Armenian citizen, was killed on the anniversary of the Genocide in 2011 when he was doing his compulsory military service.
Pınar Tarcan İstanbul – BIA News Desk13 January 2020, Monday 16:09
The defendant in the case of Sevag Balıkçı, an Armenian citizen of Turkey who was shot dead during his compulsory military service, has been sentenced to 16 years and 8 months in prison.
Balıkçı was killed in the southeastern on April 24, 2011, the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. On the day he was killed, he had 20 days to complete his service in Kozluk district of the southeastern Batman province. Compulsory military service applies to all male citizens of Turkey.
A military prosecutor’s office wrote an indictment in 2011, stating that the weapon did not have a malfunction that would cause it to open fire by itself and tests showed that the weapon did not fire by itself.
It had requested the defendant, Kıvanç Ağaoğlu, to be sentenced from four to nine years in prison for intentional killing. Expert reports also found that Ağaoğlu was at fault.
Diyarbakır 2nd Air Force Command Military Court sentenced Ağaoğlu to 4 years, 5 months and 10 days in prison for conscious and reckless killing on March 26, 2013.
Balıkçı family appealed the case at the Court of Cassation, which overturned the court ruling on procedural grounds.
While the trial was continuing, the military judiciary was abolished upon Statutory Decree No. 68 after the July 2016 coup attempt.
A retrial began on February 8 at Kozluk Penal Court of First Instance. A witness who was also serving in the military at the time, Halil Ekşi, first stated that Ağaoğlu deliberately killed Balıkçı but then changed his statement.
After an application by the Balıkçı family, he gave a statement again, saying that he changed his statement under pressure.
MP Paylan: An important decision
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan commented to bianet on the court verdict, recalling that Balıkçı was killed on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
“I attach importance to this. At last, we have seen that a hate crime against Armenians in the country resulted in a court sentencing the defendant,” he said.
However, he said, Turkey needs a “climate” where such hate crimes would not happen and it has not achieved this yet. “We must make political openings and create a climate where no one is targeted by hate crimes.”
Paylan also mentioned the killing of Hrant Dink, the trial of which has been continuing for 13 years and said he hopes the decision on Balıkçı’s killing sets a precedent for other cases of hate crimes. (PT/VK)