European court rules Turkey must pay family of slain ethnic Armenian journalist $170,000

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey must pay about $170,000 (€133,000) to the family of a slain ethnic Armenian journalist, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday, saying the state failed to protect him despite threats against his life.

The verdict also awarded the compensation to Hrant Dink's family because of a lack of respect for freedom of expression, and for failure to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder, the court said.

Dink was shot by an alleged hardline nationalist teenager outside the Istanbul office of the minority Agos newspaper on Jan. 19, 2007.

The journalist had sought to encourage reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia, but angered Turkish nationalists with assertions that the mass killings of Armenians around the time of World War I constituted genocide.

His killing led to international condemnation and debate within Turkey about free speech. The gunman and several others have gone on trial for his death.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the country would not appeal the decision and that it "would abide by the ruling and take measures to prevent reoccurrence of such violations."

His family welcomed the decision and said it would donate the money to educational charities.

"He has been cleared," his wife, Rakel Dink, said in tears. "Today's decision has confirmed that he was right."

Turkey, a candidate to become a member of the European Union, is trying to prove its commitment to democracy.