The second hearing in the trial of Agos newspaper's editor-in-chief Hrant Dink's murder is on 1 October (Monday) at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court.
Dink family lawyer Fethiye Cetin has complained that there will be no police officers at the hearing, despite the fact that Erhan Tuncel, tried for incitement to murder, said at the first case hearing on 2 July: "I brought all the information. I told [the police] how and where Hrant Dink would be killed."
Referring to the recent controversy over nationalist singer Ismail Türüt's song and a clip praising the murder of Hrant Dink which was published on You Tube, Cetin said: "Hate crimes, which are considered very important in international law, need to be categorised as such in Turkey, too. There need to be academic and/or parliamentary projects on this issue."
In an interview with bianet, Cetin spoke about the first hearing of the trial, at which some of the 19 accused were heard, and her experiences with the Dink murder trial so far.
1. Is the progress in the case satisfactory? What are you uncomfortable with?
After the first hearing, there was an investigation under the Law on Trying Civil Servants and other Public Employees. There is only permission to question two members of the gendarmerie, and no trial has been opened yet.
Secondly, there was an investigation into the Istanbul Police Department. Again, there is only permission to investigate one person. And because the case is still at the administrative court, it is not even clear whether there will be permission.
The investigation into the Trabzon Police Department was to ascertain whether there had been negligence in preventing Dink's murder. We wanted to investigate eight police officers, but the Trabzon province administration did not permit it. It was decided that no fault would be ascribed to the police force. We have appealed against this decision at the regional administrative court.
The process is continuing, but this picture shows us that in Dink's death and in a possible prevention of his death and in the investigation of his death, there has been great negligence on behalf of the gendarmerie and police, to the extent that some actions could be called "possible premeditation". This is very worrying.
2. Why has there been a limit to the number of lawyers? Will it be possible to hear the officers that Erhan Tuncel said he was in contact with?
Again, we objected to the limit in lawyer numbers. This is not legal. Legally there is a limit to defense lawyers which can be applied if there is an abuse of position. The plaintiff lawyers did not abuse their position in the first hearing, on the contrary, they are trying to help the investigation. That is why we objected, and most probably, the limit will be lifted.
At this hearing we will not be able to listen to Erhan Tuncel's witnesses. The defendants will be questioned. According to the new Penal Trial Law, we will be able to ask the defendants direct questions.
3. Is it a coincidence that by the first trial day the video recordings of shops [in the area of the murder site] had not been examined yet? What might be the effect of such flaws?
If there had only been one incident, one could have supposed extremely negligent behaviour. However, there are so many similar examples in the file that the prosecutors need to investigate them. Those who have been negligent need to put on trial. When there is an accusation of trying to destroy evidence of a crime, this is evaluated as a "connected crime" and is added to the case.
4. What kind of impression does one get of the Turkish justice system if the Hrant Dink murder is not solved?
First of all, the trust in this country's justice system has been severely shaken and will disappear. That is a desperate situation for Turkey. If a society does not trust justice and the law, then no individual can live safely.
5. How have you been affected by Ismail Türüt and the clip?
It has to be said clearly: This can never be compatible with the freedom of expression. International standards of freedom of expression would never accept such a racist hate discourse. Furthermore, Ismail Türüt and the clip have violated several articles of the Turkish Penal Code.
6. In the past Hrant Dink and other dissidents were tried under Article 301. Now some Protestants are being tried under the same article. Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu and Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran have not been acquitted under Article 216. Do you think that the law has been helpless and deficient in some cases?
Article 301 in particular protects values such as "Turkishness" and "the Republic". There is not even a proper definition of these values. But the judges in the cases see themselves as the protectors of these values. That is why, from the start, they are secretely biased. This bias is mostly reflected in the decrees. Article 301 has led to sentences because judges are not neutral. [...] Article 301 must immediately be abolished. (EÖ/NZ/AG)