Former Head of the Samsun Public Order Department, Yakup Kurtaran (left) together with Dink murderer Ogün Samast (middle) one day after the offence.
Ogün Samast, convicted murderer of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, was arrested on 20 January 2007, one day after he had shot the editor-in-chief of the Armenian Agos newspaper in bold daylight in front of his office in Istanbul. Samast was then taken to the Anti-Terror Branch of the Samsun (Black Sea coast) Police Directorate. The photographs taken there now leaked to the press.
Gendarmerie and police officers posed for a photograph taken together with Samast holding the Turkish flag. The picture and related video footage now leaked to the media.
It turned out that Yakup Kurtaran, then Head of the Samsun Public Order Department and on the left of the photograph, was promoted as Deputy Chief of the Malatya Police later on. According to the Radikal newspaper, Kurtaran was first appointed to Amasya and then to the traffic registration branch in Malatya.
After a short stay at the traffic registration branch, Kurtaran advanced quickly. He was promoted to 4th class superintendant and then to 2nd class superintendent before he became Deputy Chief of the Malatya Police this year.
When the photograph emerged within the police, Yakup Kurtaran and several police officers were deposed from office on 5 February 2007. Pursuant to the corresponding investigation, police inspectors recommended to punish Kurtaran with the discontinuation of his seniority-based pay for 16 months. Despite that proposal, Kurtaran was punished by a salary cut of one day only.
Kurtaran brought the decision before the Samsun 1st Administrative Court and effected the cancellation of the penalty. A prosecution of the police officer was not required.
Kurtaran was a 4th class superintendant when the picture was taken. He made his career from 4th to 2nd class superintendant and eventually Deputy Chief of the Malatya Police within five years.
Moreover it turned out that an investigation had been launched about the un-identified person(s) who gave these pictures to the press. The related file no. 2007/9251 was opened under charges of "violating the confidentiality of an investigation by publishing the photograph and camera footage in the media".
According to the report of the State Supervisory Council (DDK), this file is going to become time-barred on 21 May 2015. It was said that until this date, the document would permanently be on the agenda. In contrast to the report, procedures with regard to the Flag Trial were opened against two police officers only who were acquitted later on.
In the DDK report it was said that taking such a picture with holding the Turkish flag represented a marginal mindset. Yet, the report emphasized that the paradigms leading to this kind of understanding should be faced. It was also suggested to prosecute the responsible public officials.
"Hold the flag nicely"
Samast and police and gendarmerie officers had the following conversation at the Samsun Police Directorate when the photograph was taken:
Officer: (addressing Samast) Come here, let's have a picture taken of both of us together. You don't have to be uncomfortable, I am sincere (hugging Samast).
Samast: I am not uncomfortable anyways. Let's do it.
Officer: (talking to Samast) Ogün, have it your own. We call it our own archive. We will put it in the file (pointing with his hand holding the camera to the people in the back). This guy is from the crime scene investigation and this guy is his assistant.
Officer: (to Samast) Come on, pose nicely and give this guy a smile.
Officer: Put it to the foreground (referring to the flag). Unfold and hold it. Hold it nicely. Hold it nice and low so that we can see your face. Look at us.
Officer: (his face is not visible) My brave man.
Officer: (on the left, wearing a tie, his mobile phone rings) Yes, brother? How? (At that time, Samast starts rolling up the flag he is holding.)
Officer: You know what to do with that [flag] in your hand, don't you? (Thereupon, Samast kisses the flag and puts it back to the pocket of his denim jacket.)
Officer: (the one on the phone) I don't know anything about that. Wait, I will call you back... (In the meantime, Samast lights a cigarette and somebody else comes to his side.)
Officer: (looks at his mobile phone. Then he shows it to Samast and passes the phone to him. He pads his back. Tea is being served.) Look here, you look very bad, you lift your eyes.
Officer: The last one is nice, you are smiling. (Gendarmerie and police officers take a picture side by side in front of Atatürk's speech.)
Samast: (turning to the gendarmerie officer) I want to remove this, brother. I will remove it. (The gendarmerie officer does not reply and poses with a flag in his hand.)
Officer: (to Samast) You are looking at the wall, my friend. Look at the opposite wall, look here. (A police officer turns him into the other direction.)
Officer: And now Salih, come as well and we'll go together.
"We take pictures for the archive"
(A different place, a sofabed)
Officer: This is only for our own archive, did I make myself clear, only for our archive.
Samast: What should I tell.
Officer: No, no... I mean you buy a ticket in Trabzon, take the bus and go - this is only for our own archive, that means for the archive of the Gendarmerie and the Police Directorate.
Officer: I tell you. If this would leak to one single newspaper or one single media institution I would... My son, do you understand me? This is why I tell you that this is for our own archive, did I make myself clear?
Officer: In any case we would be responsible if we gave this to anybody.
Officer: We would be ridiculed, not you.
Officer: We passed that and we are pleased. We passed that and now kindly answer the questions asked by this brother... Start asking. (IC)