New video footage has surfaced featuring Ogün Samast, the convict who shot journalist Hrant Dink, and a group of police officers and gendarmerie treating him like a hero hours after he committed the murder.
The footage, which was released by Turkish news broadcaster 24TV, was shot nine years ago in a teahouse inside the Police Department in Samsun.
Shot 36 hours after Samast murdered the journalist, the video shows police officers treat Samast like a hero. They give Samast a Turkish flag asking him to pose for the camera smiling. While one of the officers questions Samast about his actions on the day of the murder, one of the officers congratulates Samast saying, "Good job, my boy."
Upon being asked about the murder, Samast says "I watched him for two or three days. I pull out my gun and shot him. I was waiting in front of his door. I came, I shot." Towards the end of the footage, one of the police officers talks to a man named Ramazan. Although it is not clear, the name of the caller is similar to Ramazan Akyürek, the police commissioner of the police department in Trabzon at the time, who is currently in prison due to his connections with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Another photo taken after Samast's detention shows Samast holding a Turkish flag and posing with Metin Balta, the former counter terrorism deputy chief in Samsun province. Samast was reportedly told by FETÖ members to hold a Turkish flag to attribute the murder to ultra-nationalists.
After the media started to circulate the photo, Balta faced a 2-year prison term for abusing executive jurisdiction but the local court acquitted Balta and he even had a promotion in the police department. However, during the purge following the July 15 failed coup attempt, Balta was dismissed over his ties with FETÖ.
Gülenist links and allegations of a cover-up in the case were under the spotlight after the 2013 coup attempts by Gülenist prosecutors and police. An Istanbul court reopened the case and the subsequent legal process saw former police chiefs detained for negligence and cover-ups. Video footage was previously discovered showing six gendarmerie intelligence officers who were arrested for being members of FETÖ scout the area the day before the murder.
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 caused public outrage and was initially blamed on ultra-nationalists angry over Dink's comments on Turkish-Armenian relations, a sensitive issue for nationalists. A judicial inquiry into his murder saw Samast and his accomplices jailed, but the allegations of a role played by public officials in the murder has long remained in the shadows. A renewed investigation after two coup attempts by the Gülen Movement in 2013 laid bare links between the murder suspects and police officers with ties to Gülenists. Although Gülenist officers are not accused of directly ordering the hit on Dink, they are accused of negligence in ignoring tips and intelligence reports that indicated threats to Dink's life.
The first investigators in the case were prosecutors Selim Berna Altay and Fikret Seçen. Seçen is now wanted for ties to FETÖ in another case and remains at large. The two prosecutors dismissed an investigation of links by terrorist organizations to Dink's murder. In 2011, Samast was sentenced to 22 years in prison, while the case transferred to another court, took a new turn when a new prosecutor blamed the murder on Ergenekon, an alleged gang of generals, journalists, politicians and academics who were imprisoned in another investigation. Ergenekon later turned out to be a plot to imprison critics of Gülen, the accused FETÖ leader, and alleged gang members were subsequently released, while the prosecutors and judges in the Ergenekon case now face charges of membership in FETÖ.
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.
Gökalp Kökçü, one of the prosecutors handling the case, 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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