26 police officers to stand trial in Dink case
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Hürriyet PhotoAn indictment of the investigation into negligence of public officials in the killing of prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul has been approved by the court.
A total of 26 police officers, including both current and former police chiefs, will be tried as the indictment in the nine-year-long investigation into negligence of public employees in the shooting death of Dink was recognized by the Istanbul 14th Court for Serious Crimes on Dec. 15 following its Dec. 9 approval by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The 26 police officers were charged with one count each of “forming or heading an armed terrorist group,” “membership of an armed terrorist group,” “power abuse on duty,” “manipulating, destroying and/or concealing official documents,” “deliberate murder,” “fabricating official documents by public employees” and “deliberate murder on negligence” in the case filed into negligence of public officials at the time of the assassination. All of the 26 were on duty at the time of Dink’s murder.
The move comes a week after the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 9 approved the indictment prepared against the 26 police officers 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.
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.