Turkish Prime Ministry Inspection Board wanted to remove two key names out of Dink murder report: Witness

Turkish Prime Ministry Inspection Board wanted to remove two key names out of Dink murder report: Witness

The head of the Turkish Prime Ministry Inspection Board has asked for two key names to be removed from the report on the killing of Armenian-origin Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, one of the inspectors who prepared the report has said. 

Dink was shot dead with three bullets on Jan. 19, 2007 in front of the apartment where Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos’s main office was located on Halaskargazi Street in Istanbul’s Şişli district.

Inspector Ayşegül Genç said then-board head Mütalip Ünal had asked for the names of Ali Fuat Yılmazer, the former head of Turkey’s police intelligence branch, and Ramazan Akyürek, the former police intelligence bureau C-branch head, to be removed from the report.

“Muttalip Ünal, who was our board’s head at the time, asked us to remove the names of Yılmazer and Akyürek. We told him that this is not possible. As far as I remember, this request occurred several times. But we had been working for 1.5 years on the case and had made progress, so it would have been strange if we had removed the names. We didn’t intend to defame people; we wrote the report how it is and delivered it on Oct. 10, 2008,” Genç said in her testimony as witness in the hearing of the murder case on April 13. 

She added that she was assigned to investigate neglect in the murder and they carried out works in Istanbul, Ankara and the Black Sea province of Trabzon. 

Genç also said the report was returned for reevaluation on Nov. 7, 2008. 

“The returning of the report demoralized us. I along with other inspectors, Yasemin Tuğçe İnan and Mehmet Akın, sent the report back on Nov. 14, 2008, with a note suggesting that we were insisting on the report,” she said. 

Saying the report had been approved by the prime minister, Genç noted that the police officers named in the report visited the inspectors several times. 

Genç also said Ünal had called them while the Interior Ministry was working on the report and added that their phones were wiretapped during the process.

He looked concerned when we went there. He said, ‘Be careful, friends.’ Mehmet said, ‘We are already. They can wiretap as much as they want.’ Ünal replied, ‘I’m not saying you should be careful physically, even when you’re crossing the street. This is not a threat. We are colleagues.’ Mehmet then asked him who had called him, to which Ünal responded that Ramazan Akyürek had called him,” she said. 

A total of 35 suspects, of whom two are under arrest, are being tried in the murder case, including Akyürek and Yılmazer. 

Dink was shot dead at the age of 52 in broad daylight and Ogün Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011 after confessing the murder. The case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.