Father of suspect casts doubt on Dink trial’s fate
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
A group of protesters hold a banner that reads ‘For Hrant, for Justice’ during a demonstration in front of the Beşiktaş courthouse before a hearing of Dink murder trial. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
The father of one of the suspected conspirators in the Hrant Dink murder has withdrawn his initial testimony due to fears about his personal safety and expressed no confidence that the case will ever be resolved in its entirety.
“I am in full agreement with the Dink family’s lawyers. I do not believe that the dark side of this case will truly come to light. I cannot look at the faces of the Dink family; it gives me pain,” Bahattin Hayal, the father of suspect Yasin Hayal, who allegedly instigated hitman Ogün Samast to assassinate the Turkish-Armenian journalist, told reporters yesterday after a hearing.
Only minutes before the end of the most recent hearing in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş courthouse, Bahattin Hayal requested to act as a witness, adding that he held important information. His request, however, was denied by the court.
“They warned me that I would find myself in trouble. I told them that I had shared the truth with them, but they forced me to change my testimony,” he said.
A high-ranking official in the southeastern province of Mardin has frequently transmitted messages to him through an intermediary, he said, adding that he would share that information with the public in short order.
“Following the murder, many people who got involved in the incident, including [suspect] Erhan Tuncel, received bonuses,” the suspect’s father said.
“Erhan [Tuncel] takes a computer printout of Hrant Dink’s picture and tells my son that it is the ‘Armenians’ Atatürk’ and thus depicts him as a target. How would my son know anything about Hrant Dink or Agos?” he said, adding that his son was used by Tuncel.
“Erhan Tuncel ought to reveal [the identity of] his superiors and what their connections are. My son has become a snack in the feast of the wolves,” he said.
Meanwhile, just over two months are left until the erasure of phone records relevant to the case. The Telecommunications Directorate (TİB), which possesses the records, earlier refused two court demands to disclose the records; when a higher court also ruled in the same vein, the body then issued a series of demands of its own for the records to be revealed. Phone records are only kept for five years, meaning authorities must convince TİB to release the transcripts by Jan. 19, 2012, the fifth anniversary of Dink’s murder.
Dink, a journalist of Armenian origin, was the chief editor for weekly Agos, a paper published in both Turkish and Armenian. He was shot in front of his office in January 2007; Samast was sentenced to 22 years in prison on July for the murder.
GOVERNMENT BLAMED FOR RECORDS
The Malatya deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has accused the country’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) of attempting to hamper the Dink case and accusing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of standing behind the body’s actions.
“Nearly all state institutions are working to prolong the [trial] process and to make [people] forget about the murder, rather than trying to shed light on it,” CHP deputy Veli Ağbaba told members of the press in Parliament.
The TİB’s behavior bordered on the negligent and intentional, Ağbaba said, adding that he TİB’s temerity comes from the fact that its president is protected by the AKP.