Lawyers of Dink murder case suspects withdraw after July 15 coup attempt
ISTANBULAn Istanbul court began its 8th hearing on Aug. 8 in the case of the 2007 murder of journalist Hrant Dink, with some lawyers withdrawing their legal representation of their suspects over ongoing Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ)-linked charges, in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt.
In the 8th hearing of the case involving 35 suspects, the lawyers of former Police Headquarters Intelligence Bureau Chief Ramazan Akyürek and former Intelligence Bureau Head Office C Branch Chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer, along with a number of other lawyers, said they would not continue defending their clients.
The lawyers’ withdrawal came amid increased connections being made between the Dink assassination and FETÖ, as last week a Gendarmerie Specialized Sgt. Abdullah Dinç was arrested by an Istanbul court on charges of “attempting to abolish the constitutional order, being a member to FETÖ and deliberate murder.”
Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse arrested Dinç after hearing him and another suspect, former Gendarmerie Intelligence Officer Yusuf Bozca, upon a prosecutor’s demand. Bozca, who was also among the 26 detainees in the Dink probe, was freed on legal control by the same court.
Meanwhile, on July 27, four gendarmerie officers of various ranks and the owner of a publishing house were detained in Istanbul and the northern province of Trabzon as part of the Dink probe.
Dink probe prosecutor Gökalp Kökçü said the murder’s gendarmerie leg was separated from the probe that involved civil servants due to lack of access to evidence.
In his arrest demand letter to the court, Kökçü said it would be “far from a legal definition” to identify the acts of the suspects as only membership or leadership of an armed terrorist organization and participation in deliberate murder at the point reached in the wake of the failed July 15 coup attempt, and that the Dink murder was the “first bullet fired” in the process advancing to this attempt.
Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos in central Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.
Ogün Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.
But the case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.