Arrested policemen begin blame game in Dink case

Arrested policemen begin blame game in Dink case

Arrested policemen begin blame game in Dink case

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Officers arrested in the murder case of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink have joined the civilian suspects in blaming one-time allies or colleagues for the killing, after the inspection was recently widened.

Policeman Muhittin Zenit, one of the key suspects in the case who was arrested last week, said his superiors used him as bait, forcing him to talk on the phone with one of the organizers of the assassination.

Zenit said in his testimony that four of his superiors wanted him to talk to Erhan Tuncel, one of the figures behind the convicted triggerman Ogün Samast, on Jan. 19, 2007, the day Dink was killed, according to a report on the Radikal news portal on Jan. 23.

Zenit said the superiors were Ali Fuat Yılmazer, then-Istanbul police intelligence chief, and Engin Dinç and Faruk Sarı, the two Trabzon police intel chiefs at the time, adding that Trabzon branch chief Ercan Demir wanted him to call Tuncel.

“I see the people who I think was negligent in the murder used me as bait,” he told the judge on Jan. 22. “The real suspects have hidden themselves.”

The triggerman also alleged last month that then-Trabzon police chief Ramazan Akyürek and Yılmazer were behind the murder.

Samast assassinated Dink in broad daylight on a busy street outside the office of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos in Istanbul’s Şişli district. Samast is serving a sentence of 22 years and 10 months in a high-security prison. Yusuf Hayal and Tuncel are accused of encouraging Samast to kill Dink, in the Black Sea province of Trabzon.

Civil servants and institutions allegedly implicated in the murder should be investigated, the Constitutional Court ruled on July 17, 2014. The ruling became a milestone in the case that has been lingering since the killing in 2007. 

On Jan. 23, however, a court rejected Dink’s family's request for the inspection to be deepened, ruling that such a move would cause the issue to linger even longer.

A group, “Friends of Hrant,” gathered in front of the courthouse as the decision was being made. Aydın Engin, a journalist with the group, said the government’s efforts to put the blame for the murder entirely on the so-called “parallel structure,” a symbolic phrase used by top officials for the Gülenist movement, was unconvincing.