Turkey says torture, murder of 86-year-old Greek man is "not a hate crime"

Zafir Pinaris, 86-year old Greek Turkey Imvros Imbros

The case concerning the brutal murder of an 86-year-old Greek Christian citizen of Turkey in 2019 has finally concluded. The court ruled against it being considered a hate crime. It also rejected the intervention of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) in the case.

The victim, Zafir Pinaris, lived a desolate life on the island of Imbros (Gökçeada). He was found murdered in his home on May 13, with his hands and feet tied. He was tortured to death.

The Independent’s Turkish website reported:

The islanders did his daily chores, and he himself hardly left his home. For the first time, he did not open the door to his neighbor who brought food on May 13, 2019. The neighbor who opened the door found the old man on the ground with his hands tied. The gendarme who came to the house evaluated that Pinaris had died 1 day ago and an investigation was started regarding the murder. After 11 days, the operations [investigations] were concluded. Within the scope of the investigation, 8 people were detained. 5 of them were released, and 3 suspects, Erdoğan Baş, Mete Sarı and Kadir Arslan, were arrested. One of the defendants, Erdoğan Baş, died shortly after being imprisoned.

The lawsuit, which went on for a year and a half, concluded on April 7.

In the case, held at the Çanakkale Courthouse, the court sentenced Kadir Arslan, one of the detained defendants, to an aggravated life sentence for murder by design and to 15 years in prison for looting.

While Mete Sarı was acquitted of the charge of murdering Pinaris by design, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for looting. Arslan and Sarı’s detention was decided to continue. Erdal Baş, who was tried without arrest, was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months for possession of an unlicensed weapon, but was acquitted of concealing the evidence of the crime. Juvenile delinquent A.B. was sentenced to 4 years and 2 months for aiding the looting crime. It was decided that the trials of Erdal Baş and A.B. would continue without arrest.

However, the request for intervention of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) was rejected by the court. Inci Incesağır, a lawyer with the IHD who followed the case, said the murder was also a hate crime:

The court, however, did not consider it a hate crime. There is an understanding [in Turkey] that ‘If one is Greek, one is definitely very rich and his/her money should belong to “us,” not to the Greek.’ Therefore, we think that this should be considered as a hate murder, but our request for intervention was rejected [by the court].

Incesağır said she believes that Kadir Arslan and Mete Sağır, two of the 5 defendants in the case, directly participated in the crime:

Sarı was acquitted of murder by design. Since our request for intervention was not accepted, we think that the victim’s attorney will appeal.

It was not only Pinaris’ right to life that was taken away by Turks. His hometown, the island of Imbros, was also violated and ethnically cleansed of its indigenous Greek population by Turkish authorities. Imbros was a demographically Greek island until pressures against local Christians were accelerated by Turkey during the 1960s.

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Uzay Bulut is a Turkey-born journalist and political analyst formerly based in Ankara.

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