‘Public officials’ role in Dink murder still being ignored’

by editor | 21st September 2011 7:22 am

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While the Dink family lawyers protested Monday’s hearing, the group, Hrant’s Friends, gathered at Dolmabahçe Square and held up placards reading “This case cannot end like this!”
The public prosecutor’s announcement on Monday of his opinion on who masterminded the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink neither pleased Dink’s lawyers nor Hrant’s Friends because even though the prosecution points to an Ergenekon cell in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, a significant number of public officials are not cited for their involvement in the preparation and perpetration of the Dink murder nor for their efforts to conceal and tamper with evidence afterwards.
“The prosecution indicates that the murder was committed by an Ergenekon cell in Trabzon. Where, then, is the Trabzon gendarmerie and police? Why aren’t they being prosecuted? Alright, Yasin and Erhan are involved in Ergenekon but Ergenekon is not all about them,” said Arzu Becerik, a lawyer for the Dink family, in response to questions from Today’s Zaman. Almost five years after Dink’s murder, during the 20th hearing of the Dink trial at the ?stanbul 14th High Criminal Court, the prosecutor said on Sept. 19 that the murder was the work of the Trabzon cell of Ergenekon.
Ergenekon is a clandestine underground network accused of creating chaos and plotting to overthrow the government. The prosecutor also demanded a life sentence for seven suspects, including key suspects Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order.

“The Dink assassination was the latest assassination of the deep structures. The suspects acted on ideological motives. The target was the Turkish Republic and public order. There is suspicion that the murder is linked to the Ergenekon network. We have reached the conclusion that the Dink murder was committed by the Trabzon cell of the Ergenekon terrorist organization,” Prosecutor Hikmet Usta said at the hearing.

A former police informant, Tuncel is believed to have supplied the hitman with a gun and Hayal is accused of having acted with Tuncel in masterminding the Dink murder. Among other key suspects is Ogün Samast, an ultranationalist teenager who gunned Dink down outside his office in 2007. Samast stood trial at the ?stanbul 2nd Juvenile Court because he was a minor at the time of the murder. He was recently sentenced to 22 years, 10 months in prison by the court.

A majority of the suspects, including the hitman, are from Trabzon, where the police say they had informed the ?stanbul police about the plot to kill Dink on more than one occasion.

The lawyers of the Dink family said the prosecutor’s announcement does not add anything to the Dink file. Furthermore, at the court on Monday, the lawyers came out against the prosecutor’s announcement of his opinion, saying that without obtaining the results of new investigations it would not be wise to present an announcement regarding the essence of the case. However, the prosecutor denied their request and the lawyers left the courtroom in protest.

“First of all, the announcement following the investigation contains nothing that has been proven even though we have had several requests to go deeper into the investigation, and our criminal complaints were not taken into consideration,” Becerik said.

She further explained that there is evidence pointing to public officials’ involvement in the assassination. For example, Dink was threatened by two National Intelligence Organization (M?T) officials in the office of the governor of ?stanbul, as Dink also described the situation in his articles just prior to his murder.

“Why wasn’t the involvement of the former ?stanbul police chief investigated? Why was the involvement of the ?stanbul police officers who are appointed to fight terrorism not investigated? What about not protecting Dink even though M?T had harshly warned him?” Becerik asked.

Furthermore, it became known on Feb. 6, 2007 that defendant Tuncel had informed the police of plans to kill Dink. This Monday Tuncel shouted at the court, saying he was incited to kill Dink by the same people who are now blaming Dink’s murder on him.

“I will reveal the people who prepared this plot against me,” he said as he was removed from the courtroom by gendarmes for shouting at Fuat Turgut, a former lawyer for Hayal who is now a suspect in the Ergenekon case.

All evidence should be considered before prosecutor announces views

According to Fethiye Çetin, who represents the Dink family at the trial, the prosecutor should have waited for the arrival of new evidence before making an announcement on Monday regarding the essence of the case.

“This is what should be done in a legal proceeding and it goes without saying. First, all of the facts should be presented to the court and they should be thoroughly evaluated, and then announcements are made about the essence of the case,” she told Today’s Zaman.

One of the pieces of evidence the court is waiting for is the telephone recordings of people who were suspiciously close to the site of the murder. The 14th High Criminal Court requested the recordings from the Telecommunications Directorate (T?B) upon a request by the co-plaintiffs involved in the case. T?B opposed the decision and submitted a report to the court, saying it would not release the telephone recordings because that would “interfere in [the suspects’] private lives” and appealed the decision at a higher court, requesting it overturn the ruling of the ?stanbul 14th High Criminal Court. T?B’s appeal was rejected and it was ordered to send the recordings to the court. It is important that the court obtains the recordings because T?B deletes the recordings of telephone conversations of people every five years. Around five months are left until recordings made at the time of Dink’s murder are deleted.

Çetin also said her team also claimed at the court that one of the people at the scene of the crime was Hayal, as shown on a video recordings obtained from shops in the area from the time of the murder. An expert report has yet to be delivered to the court to prove or disprove that claim.

In addition, there are more witnesses whose testimonies have not been heard yet.

“Despite all that, the prosecutor decided to present his views on the essence of the case. And we are concerned. That is why we left the courthouse on Monday,” she said.

If this is the way the case develops, the file could be closed after a few more hearings as the court would ask the co-plaintiffs to present their views on the essence of the case, and then the defendants would make their defense arguments.

“The court would then issue its ruling. This case should not end like this.”

An appeal to the prime minister

While the Dink family lawyers protested Monday’s hearing, the group Hrant’s Friends gathered at Dolmabahçe Square and held up placards reading “For Hrant, For Justice.”

Pakrat Estukyan, an editor from Dink’s Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, read the letter that they sent to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. The letter stated: “Esteemed Prime Minister, they have killed our friend, Hrant Dink. Our search for justice has been to no avail now, five years after his death. The state to whom we sent a petition seeking justice has sided with the killers. We have complaints about this.”


Prosecutor ties some Ergenekon suspects to Dink murder

The Dink family lawyers have long held that individuals who assumed active roles in the preparation of Dink’s murder have long remained untouched, only to be affected during the investigation of Ergenekon. Those people, including Veli Küçük, Kemal Kerinçsiz, Sevgi Erenerol, Özer Y?lmaz and Levent Temiz, are accused of a number of criminal offenses, including setting up, managing and being members of a terrorist organization, but so far it has not been possible to question them about Dink’s murder.

Announcing his views on the essence of the case on Monday, the prosecutor in the Dink case quoted from the indictments of the Ergenekon, Sledgehammer, Cage and Zirve Publishing House cases and said that Sledgehammer, a suspected military plot to overthrow the government, targets non-Muslims, including Dink.

The prosecutor also stated that Küçük and Kerinçsiz had spoken over the phone about a lawsuit Dink was involved in prior to his murder. The prosecutor also stated that former Trabzon Gendarmerie Commander Col. Ali Öz had received Küçük in his office, where the two posed for a photo together. He further stated that Öz had received Ergenekon suspect Gen. ?ener Eruygur as the head of the Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD). The prosecutor also noted that Kerinçsiz and people from associations such as the Great Jurists Union, the Noel Baba Foundation and the National Force Platform had protested against Dink in front of Agos and against an Armenian conference held at Bilgi University. The people also held protests against novelist Orhan Pamuk and the patriarchate in front of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

The prosecutor stated:

“Because the Ergenekon investigation has not been carried out effectively and because the public has not been exemplary in the investigation of deep structures in Turkey, the Trabzon cell’s links to upper level deep structures have not been revealed yet. However, the investigation is not yet complete. The Ergenekon investigation started in 2008, about one year after Hrant Dink’s assassination, which has been etched into history as the last assassination of this terrorist group based in Trabzon.”

Source URL: https://globalrights.info/2011/09/public-officials-role-in-dink-murder-still-being-ignored/