Senior officials may face trial over Hrant Dink murder
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULOct 23, 2014 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Oct 23, 2014 12:00 am
The Justice Ministry ordered prosecutors to include Istanbul’s former police chief and deputy governor in an investigation into the controversial murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink
The Justice Ministry has annulled the verdict of nonsuit for nine officials, paving the way for their trial for failing to prevent the 2007 murder of Hrant Dink.
The Bakırköy Heavy Criminal Court of Istanbul had earlier ruled for a trial of the officials, while the Chief Prosecutor's Office objected, citing "lack of grounds for legal action." The ministry rejected the prosecutor's office plea.
Among those who face trial are former Deputy Governor Ergun Güngör, Turkish National Police's Istanbul directorate head Celalettin Cerrah, former Istanbul police intelligence unit head Ahmet İlhan Güler and six senior police officers.
The family of Hrant Dink had filed a lawsuit against the nine officials in 2011 but heeding the advice of an Interior Ministry inspector, the Istanbul Governorate that oversees the judicial affairs of the police, did not authorize the investigation. After this development, the prosecutor's office told the court that there were no legal grounds for the investigation. However, the Dink family appealed to the court again for the investigation of officials.
Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Agos, was known for his staunch stance on the thorny issue of the 1915 incidents that Armenia terms as the "genocide of Armenians in Turkey." Dink had called for a public debate over the issue and called for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians on the issue. But his definition of the deaths during a mass exodus as "genocide" angered nationalists, leading to Dink receiving death threats.
He was murdered outside his office by 17-year-old Ogün Samast on Jan.19, 2007. Treatment of the suspect by police sparked controversy after photos of police officers posing with Samast after the murder against the backdrop of a Turkish flag surfaced. A number of other suspects, who were accused of masterminding the murder, were arrested and sentenced to various prison terms.
Further investigation showed prosecutors who worked on the case ignored serious allegations into the involvement of top police officers in the murder. Those prosecutors are accused of having ties with the Gülen Movement, a group whose widespread infiltration of the judiciary and police enabled them to influence cases or fabricate them for their own interests. Prosecutors allegedly dismissed allegations about Ramazan Akyürek and Ali Fuat Yılmazer, two senior police officers linked to the Gülen Movement. Akyürek and Yılmazer are accused of helping the murder suspects.
Sabri Uzun, who was head of the National Police Intelligence Department, had claimed his subordinates hid tip-offs warning against the murder of Dink. Questioned about the murder, Uzun has said Yılmazer hid from him an intelligence report regarding a plot to kill Dink.
Yılmazer was arrested in September for a separate case involving illegal wiretapping. Inspectors from the Prime Ministry Inspection Board, which carried out a separate investigation on the murder on the instruction of the Prime Ministry, told police that Yılmazer and Akyürek had threatened them and demanded inspectors to dismiss the case.