26 former police officers face trial in Hrant Dink murder
ISTANBULA total of 26 former police officers may face trial as the indictment in the nine-year-long investigation into negligence by public officials in the assassination of prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink has been approved by an Istanbul prosecutor’s office, daily Hürriyet has reported.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 9 approved the indictment prepared against 26 former officers, including police chiefs, into “negligence on public duty” in the shooting death of Dink, the editor-in-chief of weekly Agos, who was shot dead outside his office in Istanbul’s Şişli district on Jan. 19, 2007.
The indictment prepared by prosecutor Gökalp Kökçü was presented to the Istanbul 14th Court for Serious Crimes after it had been rejected by deputy chief prosecutor Orhan Kapıcı twice.
The 26 former police officers could be tried on “negligence of public duty” charges if the court recognizes the indictment. The court is expected to announce its decision within 15 days.
Individuals facing prison sentences on charges of “forming and heading a terrorist organization” were among the 26 suspects.
Having been rejected twice before, lawyers representing the Dink family expressed the reaction against the indictment in the investigation returning to Kökçü. The return means that cases will likely not be opened against the suspects.
The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office returned the indictment to Kökçü in early November, arguing that “evidence of voluntary manslaughter concerning some of the suspects was not revealed.”
However, Hakan Bakırcıoğlu, a Dink family lawyer, said on Nov. 4 that not opening a case against former police chiefs Ahmet İlhan Güler, Celalettin Cerrah, Reşat Altay, Engin Dinç and other suspects, would exclude their integral responsibility in Dink’s murder.
Recalling the first two versions of the indictment, the latest one drafted in late October, Bakırcıoğlu said the two indictments charged former police chiefs Ali Fuat Yılmazer, Ramazan Akyürek, Tamer Bülent Demirel and Osman Gülbel each with “voluntary manslaughter,” Engin Dinç, Reşat Altay and Ahmet İlhan Güler each with “voluntary manslaughter due to negligence” and Sabri Uzun and Celalettin Cerrah each with “malpractice.”
“Despite resistance and barriers in front of the interrogation and investigation of public servants who took part in Dink’s murder, they were interrogated and investigated by the prosecutor [in charge of the case],” Bakırcıoğlu said.
All the names of the suspects implicated in the investigation were reported to have been on duty in police departments in Istanbul, Ankara and the Black Sea province of Trabzon at the time of Dink’s murder.
Dink was shot dead outside his office building in Istanbul’s Şişli district on Jan. 19, 2007, by 17-year-old Ogün Samast.
Relatives and followers of the case have claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.