Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered on 19 January 2007, shot down in front of his office. The suspected gunman and several other young men implicated in the case were from Trabzon, northern Turkey, and soon it became obvious that the Trabzon gendarmerie had been informed of murder plans before it happened.
However, despite efforts by the lawyers of the Dink family to have more gendarmerie officers prosecuted, and to have the Trabzon part of the case joined to the main trial in Istanbul, only two officers were put on trial and the case is being heard in Trabzon.
Gendarmerie defendants implicate superiors
On Thursday, 20 March, was the second hearing in the case against Trabzon gendarmerie officers Okan Simsek and Veysel Sahin, both of whom stand accused of gross negligence.
During the hearing, the defendants stated that they had told their superiors, former Trabzon Province Gendarmerie Commander Colonel Ali Öz and Captain Metin Yildiz, about intelligence concerning the planned murder of Hrant Dink.
The two defendants said that Yasin Hayal, on trial in Istanbul as an instigator to the murder, had come to Istanbul in July 2006 in order to research Hrant Dink’s home and his office, the Agos newspaper.
The statement corresponds to what gendarmerie informant and relative of Yasin Hayal, Coskun Igci, told the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court. Igci is being tried without detention.
Fake documents prepared
At the first hearing in Trabzon on 22 January, Igci had told the court that he had informed the two defendants 3-4 months earlier that Hayal was planning to murder Hrant Dink. Igci said that they had told him they would follow up the case.
The joint attorneys in the Dink trial have found out that Gendarmerie Commander Öz ordered the preparation of fake documents, which showed that the information received by Coskun Igci before the murder was actually received a day later, that is on 20 January. This was confirmed by witness statements.
In addition, so the defendants, they were warned by Öz and Yildiz not to tell anyone about the information received by Igci before.
It was also learnt that Gendarmerie Sergeant Major Hüseying Yilmaz had been assigned the task of monitoring Yasin Hayal after his involvement in the bombing of the Trabzon McDonald’s in October 2004.
The judge of the Trabzon court, Izzet Kabal, decided that the Trabzon Chief Public Prosecution would evaluate whether any of the names mentioned in the hearing would be investigated.
The court decided that the ten people mentioned would have to notify the court of their current place of employment, and that they would be called to make statements.
The next hearing of the case will be on 19 June, while the fifth hearing in the main Dink murder trial in Istanbul is on 28 April.
CHP members of parliamentary sub-committee withdraw
Meanwhile, some members of the Parliamentary Human Rights Investigation Sub-Committee looking into controversies in the Hrant Dink murder investigation so far have withdrawn from their posts after the committee had announced that it had collected all the information it needed.
Those resigning are the members from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the commission, and they have argued that “there is no possibility left to question the darkness.”
CHP Izmir MP Amet Ersin told NTV news on Thursday (20 March), “I think someone warned them. Or they thought they had started a job they could not finish and ended their investigation.”
When asked who he thought “someone” was, Ersin said he did not know, but thought it was someone outside of parliament.
The CHP members of the commission gave a press statement on Thursday. Istanbul MP Cetin Soysal said the investigation had not been Professional: “Why did the research of the commission end so fast? The commission founded to investigate the darkness, to find the truth, has been overshadowed by the deep darkness it was questioning.”
The commission had been working under the leadership of Bursa MP Mehmet Ocaktan from the leading Justice and Development Party (AKP), and it had announced that information and statements had been collected. Soysal had argued that the commission was ging too fast and had demanded that the statements be examined first.
Ocaktan had further said that seven people involved in the Dink murder, including suspect gunman O.S. and Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, could not be questioned by the commission because they were still on trial. (EÖ/GG)