A gendarmerie officer was arrested late on Tuesday in Istanbul for being connected to the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the first time that a military officer has been implicated in the notorious case.
Specialist Sergeant Abdullah Dinç, recently detained by police with regards to the attempted coup, is accused of murder as well as membership in the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and participating in an attempt to overthrow the constitutional order. A military junta loyal to FETÖ is accused in the failed July 15 coup attempt, and there have long been allegations that FETÖ was involved in the Dink murder, which caused public outrage.
Members of the gendarmerie's highly secretive intelligence arm were included in the prosecutor's indictment in the earlier case, but this was the first time that an officer was arrested for Dink's murder, although several former police chiefs and public officials have been accused in relation to the case.
Dink was an outspoken advocate for the resumption of Turkish-Armenian relations and reconciliation between the two countries, whose ties were severed over the infamous Armenian allegations of "genocide" during World War I. Dink drew the ire of ultranationalists, and his murder was initially tied to the far-right, as the culprit was an ultranationalist teenager. Ogün Samast was arrested in Istanbul hours after he left the crime scene to travel to his hometown of Trabzon in northern Turkey and later convicted for the murder. A former Trabzon police chief who later rose to police intelligence, together with other senior police intelligence officials, were arrested as part of the investigation into the murder. The police chiefs are linked to FETÖ and stand accused of covering up or ignoring the intelligence regarding the murder plot.
Dinç is among 27 people who were detained in the case after a new prosecutor was assigned to find out whether FETÖ was directly linked to the murder, following allegations of negligence by previous investigators into Dink's murder.
Gökalp Kökçü, the prosecutor who requested the arrest warrant, told the court that the role of gendarmerie officers in the case has long remained in the dark, as previous investigations failed to find any evidence implicating the gendarmerie. "The Hrant Dink murder was the first killing in a process leading to the coup attempt of July 15," Kökçü said, according to the Anadolu Agency. Kökçü pointed out that gendarmerie officers suspected of involvement in the murder plot were captured while participating in the coup attempt.
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