Former intel officer says chief prosecutor ordered footage with Dink hitman Ogün Samast

Former intel officer says chief prosecutor ordered footage with Dink hitman Ogün Samast


Ogün Samast holds a Turkish flag during his interrogation at the Samsun police headquarters following the murder of Armenian-origin journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.

A former intelligence officer has stated that it was the chief prosecutor who ordered Ogün Samast, the killer of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, to be filmed in front of a Turkish flag.

During the July 31 hearing of the case into Dink’s death at the Istanbul 14th high criminal court, Birol Ustaoğlu, a non-commissioned former gendarmerie intelligence officer in the Black Sea province of Samsun, reportedly said the chief prosecutor gave the order to take the controversial footage of Samast with a Turkish flag.

Ustaoğlu said he interrogated Samast at a police station upon an instruction from the chief prosecutor.

He said a plainclothes police officer then left the room during the interrogation before returning with a camera.

According to Ustaoğlu, Samast asked if he could take out the Turkish flag when the footage began to be taken. He said other people inside also recorded the moment with their mobile phones.

The chief judge asked Ustaoğlu about the motive behind the footage, upon which the former soldier stated that he interrogated Samast upon the instruction of the chief prosecutor.

“If they had told me not to do it, I would not have done it. If they had said ‘take the flag,’ I would have taken it,” Ustaoğlu reportedly said.

The 44-second video of Samast holding a Turkish flag with police and gendarmerie officers in the Samsun police headquarters emerged shortly after he was detained in the wake of the murder. The prosecutor’s office subsequently obtained the whole video, which reportedly showed Samsun Provincial Gendarmerie Command Department head Murat Bayrak making Samast watch a video from a cellphone. 

Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos in central Istanbul.   

Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.

However, the case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.