Arrest warrant issued for key suspect in restarted Dink case

Arrest warrant issued for key suspect in restarted Dink case

Arrest warrant issued for key suspect in restarted Dink case

People chant slogans in front of the Caglayan Law Court during the retrial of the man accused of instigating the 2007 murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, along with 18 other suspects, in Istanbul on Sept. 17, 2013. DAILY NEWS Photo/Emrah Gürel

An Istanbul court has issued an arrest warrant for Erhan Tuncel, a former police informant and suspect in the resumed murder case of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.

Tuncel had been released with the initial court verdict, which has since been overturned. Dink’s family protested the trial and refused to attend, saying “they are not a part of this game.”

“As the Dink family, we will no more be tools to the state mechanisms that have been mocking us and we will not attend the hearings of the retrial,” Dink’s family said in a letter published on the website of the Armenian-Turkish daily Agos.

“The crime coalition that is called the state recommitted the murder in every hearing, every day while it presented itself as if seeking justice. That coalition is the crime gang itself that planned the murder and then covered it up.”

Tuncel is a key suspect

Tuncel is seen as a key in linking the murder to the state institutions as members of the Police Department in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, the suspects’ hometown, have been accused of failing to relay intelligence provided by Tuncel to the Trabzon Gendarmerie Command in a report prepared by Turkey’s State Supervisory Council (DDK).

Dink, the renowned editor-in-chief of Agos, was shot in front of his office in Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007, after being repeatedly prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness.”

The triggerman, Ogün Samast, who was 17 years old at the time of the murder, and Yasin Hayal, who was charged with being the instigator of the assassination, were convicted of the murder.

However, a high criminal court dismissed charges related to “armed terrorist organization.” The Supreme Court of Appeals verdict defined the acts of all suspects in the case under “an organization formed to commit crime” according to the Turkish Penal Code Article 220. Hayal yesterday denied that he was involved in any criminal organization involved in the murder.

Around 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Istanbul court where eight defendants were being retried after an appeals court deemed they were part of a criminal conspiracy. Crowds accused authorities of covering up a conspiracy by nationalist elements in the state apparatus.

The crowd chanted “the murderer state will give account” and “we are all Hrant, we are all Armenians,” holding up banners in Turkish, Armenian and Kurdish. They see Dink as the victim of a shadowy “deep state” network of nationalist militants accused of killings of prominent liberals and Kurdish nationalists.

“This show must end, the real perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Gulten Kaya, the widow of well-known Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya, told reporters outside the court.

Dink’s family and his supporters reject the premise of the retrial that the defendants were part of a criminal conspiracy and argue that the state was involved in what amounted to a terrorist conspiracy.

The case was adjourned to December 3.