The lengthy trial into 2007 murder of prominent Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink continues, with new hearings focusing on allegations that intelligence and gendarmerie officers covered up evidence. A former non-commissioned officer in the gendarmerie, a paramilitary unit responsible for security predominantly in rural areas, was arrested yesterday, while the ninth hearing in the trial is underway.
Dink was gunned down in 2007 by a 17-year-old teenager in Istanbul outside the office of Agos, a Turkish-Armenian weekly where he was editor-in-chief. His murder was blamed on ultranationalists, but a new investigation has revealed that former police chiefs and gendarmerie intelligence officers were aware of the murder plot and did not act to prevent it. Those police chiefs, linked to the Gülenist terror cult, were arrested on charges of cover-up and negligence. Gülenists are accused of plotting the murder, in an attempt to blame it on critics of the cult.
Non-commissioned officer Emre Cingöz, a former officer in a gendarmerie intelligence unit, was detained along with four other former officers. Other suspects were released under judicial observation, while Cingöz was remanded to custody. The gendarmerie intelligence officers are accused of involvement in a cover-up related to Dink's murder. Ogün Samast, the convicted assassin of Hrant Dink, was under surveillance by gendarmerie intelligence, and security camera footage of the crime scene revealed intelligence officials were present at the scene, both before and after murder.
Ali Fuat Yılmazer and Ramazan Akyürek, two former police chiefs who served as senior officials in police intelligence, are the two most prominent figures in the case. They are accused of having links to the Gülenist terrorist cult, considered responsible for a string of offenses from illegal wiretapping to sham trials to imprison their critics, and finally the attempted coup on July 15.
Yesterday's hearing at an Istanbul court heard testimony from Ercan Demir, a suspect released pending trial in an earlier hearing. Demir was deputy police chief in charge of intelligence in Trabzon at the time of the murder. Ogün Samast and two of his friends accused of masterminding the murder plot lived in Trabzon. Samast's friends were on police payroll as informants on the ultranationalist scene. Demir denied charges that he ignored intelligence tips regarding Samast's involvement in a murder plot. He insisted that the intelligence on the plot was not covered up, but admitted the murder "happened anyway," and claimed that after intelligence reports, Dink should have been granted protection in Istanbul.
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