Court releases four suspects in Turkish-Armenian journalist’s murder case
ISTANBULAn Istanbul court has ruled for the release of four suspects from the gendarmerie in the case into the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. Two gendarmerie officers who posed for a photo with Dink hitman Ogün Samast while holding a Turkish flag were among those released.
Captain Murat Bayrak, Sergeant Birol Ustaoğlu, Sergeant Yüksel Avan and retired Lieutenant Colonel Atilla Güçlüoğlu, who were all on duty in the Black Sea province of Samsun at the time, were released by the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court on Aug. 3.
The case into the killing of daily Agos Editor-in-Chief Dink has 85 suspects, of whom 25 are under arrest and 10 are fugitives, including the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, former prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, former police chiefs Ali Fuat Yılmazer, Coşgun Çakar, journalists Ekrem Dumanlı and Ercan Gün, as well as a number of gendarmerie officers and Samast.
The 44-second video of Samast holding a Turkish flag with police and gendarmerie officers in the Samsun police headquarters emerged shortly after he was detained in the wake of the murder. The footage caused widespread anger in Turkey.
In its justification for their release, the court cited several reasons, including the fact that “the suspects were not dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), Samast had contradictory statements about them, the footage in Bayrak’s phone showed Samast in police headquarters and that it was confirmed by other suspects.”
The court also said “it was obvious” that the suspects’ connections to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) were not determined.