HRANT DINK MURDER TRIAL
Brief Hearing - New Investigation
The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court handling the trial on the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Dink declined a merger with the file in Trabzon. The trial will be continued on 28 March. A new investigation was launched about key figures of the murder.
The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court finished the hearing of the Hrant Dink murder case on Monday (7 January) within one hour. The court dismissed the request for a merger of the Dink murder case tried in Istanbul and the trial opened against the then Trabzon Gendarmerie Regiment Commander, Colonel Ali Öz, heard at the High Criminal Court of Trabzon (eastern Black Sea coast).
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, founder of the Armenian Agos newspaper, was killed in front of his office in Şişli (Istanbul) on 19 January 2007.
The court has still not received an answer from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) on the recovery of the footage recorded by a camera of the Akbank branch at the time of the murder. Hence, the court board requested to have the delivery of the report expedited.
It was decided to continue the detentions of defendants Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal.
The trial was adjourned to 28 March. Until now, the hearings were scheduled in intervals of three to four months, whereas the coming hearing was set in less than two months.
Police notification for absent witnesses
The court had previously required in writing the ascertainment of the addresses of Emsale Çakmakçı and Şahabettin Şahin, supposed eye-witnesses of the murder. However, the court has not received any reply yet. Thus, at the Monday hearing, it was decreed to file a criminal complaint against the employees assigned to this task due to negligence.
Additionally, the court decided to bring in Erhan Şivil by compulsion. Şivil sat next to prime suspect Samast on the coach back to Trabzon after the murder. It was also decided to apply for the statement of witness Mehmet Ali Temelocak who apparently sat right behind Samast on the coach and to notify the Dink family lawyers accordingly so that they will attend the referring hearing.
The plaintiff lawyers are also going to be informed when police officer Necati Ekinci will be heard at court. Ekinci had several telephone conversations at the time with Mustafa Öztürk, former head of the so-called Alperen Organization, a far right nationalistic youth group linked to the Great Unity Party (BBP).
Furhtermore, the court accepted the request of the joint attorneys of the Dink family to have the statement of witness Sinan Reşitoğlu taken again in their presence since it had been taken without notifying the lawyers.
Defence lawyer Erdoğan Soruklu demanded to investigate the conditions of detention of his client, defendant Erhan Tuncel. The court board rejected the request, saying that this issue did not concern the court.
The Monday hearing was attended by defendant Salih Hacısalihoğlu. Detained defendants Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel did not appear at court.
Investigation about Güler and Cerrah
A new investigation in the scope of the Dink murder was now opened about Muammer Güler, then Governor of Istanbul, Celalettin Cerrah as former Chief of the Istanbul Police,Ramazan Akyürek, Chief of the Trabzon Police at the time of the murder, and another 27 people.
Hakan Bakırcıoğlu and Fethiye Çetin, two joint attorneys of the Dink family, very much appreciated this development.
Together with the other joint attorneys, they submitted a petition to court on 17 January 2011 and demanded the prosecution of Güler, Cerrah, Akyürek and Ergun Güngör, Ahmet İlhan Güler, Bülent Köksal, İbrahim Pala, İbrahim Şevki Eldivan, Volkan Altunbulak,Bahadır Tekin, Özcan Özkan, Reşat Altay, Engin Dinç, Faruk Sarı, Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu, Muhittin Zenit, Mehmet Ayhan, Hüseyin Yılmaz, Metin Yıldız, Ali Oğuz Çağlar, Ali Öz, Hüsamettin Polat, Gazi Günay, Gökhan Aslan, Hacı Ömer Unalır, Uğur Erdoğan, Önder Aras and employees of the Trabzon Police Directorate Anti-Terror Branch, the Istanbul Police Directorate Anti-Terror Branch and the Trabzon Gendarmerie.
Dink family has six requests to the government
In a letter sent recently to the Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Minister of the Interior,Beşir Atalay, and the Justice Minister, Sadullah Ergin, the joint attorneys of the Dink family urged for the implementation of the decision given by the European Court of Human Rights(ECHR) in December 2010. The letter included the following requests:
1. The investigation of connections between public officials and defendants of the murder case. 2. An investigation about the people who concealed or destroyed evidence. 3. The prosecutors should open an investigation directly and should re-launch the entire number of investigations carried out by the Trabzon Prosecution which all resulted in impunity.
4. A special prosecutor should be appointed to review a potential racist motive for the murder.
5. Law No. 4483 should be amended since it was criticized by the ECHR as an ineffective means of investigation.
6. Obstacles before freedom of expression should be lifted and positive measures should be taken to protect individuals from potential attacks on freedom of expression.
State Supervisory Board opens file on Dink Murder
Upon the directive of President Abdullah Gül, the State Supervisory Board (DDK) is now involved in the handling of the Hrant Dink murder as well.
Journalist Ergun Babahan, columnist for the Star newspaper, indicated that the involvement of the DDK was an important step for Turkey to face its recent history and to bring light into the murder of Hrant Dink.
Journalist Kürkçü: "First lunge of a power struggle"
Journalist Ertuğrul Kürkçü considers the involvement of the DDK on Gül's behalf as one of the first lunges of a beginning power struggle between President Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which can be expected to increase step by step, he argued. Kürkçü is pessimistic on the yielding of results by involving the DDK. "Unfortunately, I do not believe at all that the involvement of the DDK is going to reveal the network behind the murder of Hrant Dink. And I cannot believe that Gül's move was made out of immediate concern to clarify the murder. This undertaking can rather be interpreted as one of the initial moves of a fight for power between President Gül and PM Erdoğan which will evidently and gradually intensify", Kürkçü said. (EG/EÖ/VK)