Trabzon intelligence police knew about Dink’s hitman before murder, prosecutor says

Trabzon intelligence police knew about Dink’s hitman before murder, prosecutor says

Toygun Atilla - ANKARA
Trabzon intelligence police knew about Dink’s hitman before murder, prosecutor says

DHA photo

An Istanbul prosecutor has unearthed files which show that Trabzon police intelligence had known about Ogün Samast, the hitman in Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s murder, before the incident took place.

Gökalp Kökçü, the chief public prosecutor heading the investigation, believes that the Trabzon police intelligence unit was told by Erhan Tuncel, a police informant at the time, that a person named Ogün had been chosen as the hitman for Dink’s murder before the incident took place in Istanbul in January 2007.

Samast assassinated Dink in broad daylight on a busy street outside of 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. Yasin Hayal and Tuncel were accused of encouraging Samast to kill Dink in the Black Sea province of Trabzon.

Samast had come to Istanbul for the first time in his life two days before committing the crime from Trabzon. The family of Dink believed that there were more connections and people behind the murder and sought a detailed investigation during the long trial period. Kökçü said Trabzon police were informed about Samast’s ties with those who planned the murder of Dink around four months before the crime took place. Trabzon police previously told the court that they had not had any reports about the issue after April 8, 2006. 

Tuncel said in his testimony on Oct. 29, 2013, that he had informed intelligence officers in Trabzon police in September or October 2006 that Hayal had arranged a new shooter. However, Trabzon police did not have any files from Tuncel about the new shooter or that cited the name of Samast.

Police intelligence chief Engin Dinç, meanwhile, gave a file to the prosecutor on Aug. 26 when his testimony was being taken as a suspect. The file showed a report that on Sept. 12, 2006, Tuncel had met with Trabzon intelligence officers Mehmet Ayhan and Mehmet Uçar. Another file about the meeting could not be provided by the Trabzon intelligence unit, leading the prosecutor to conclude that the second file was destroyed. 

On Oct. 8, five former police officers recently detained on the charge of negligence in public duty were released, while four others under arrest have been cleared of charges of premeditated murder, forming an illegal organization, and membership in an illegal organization to commit crime in the murder case of Dink.

The nine suspects are reported to have been on duty in police departments in Istanbul, Ankara and Trabzon when Dink was murdered on Jan. 19, 2007.

Former Trabzon Police Department Intelligence Unit head Faruk Sarı, along with former police officers Yılmaz Angın, Bülent Demireleski, Osman Gülbel, Mehmet Ayhan and Onur Karakaya were all released on a ruling issued by the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of Peace early Oct. 8 after being detained Oct. 7 on the charge negligence in public duty.

The court ruling also recommended the dismissal of the charges of premeditated murder, forming an illegal organization and membership in an illegal organization to commit crime against four former police officers under arrest in the case, Ramazan Akyürek, Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu and Muhittin Zenit.

Akyürek, Zenit, Mumcu and Demir were previously arrested for negligence that caused Dink’s murder and were sent to prison, with the ruling recommending that the four be kept under arrest on the charge of negligence causing death.

At the time of Dink’s murder, Akyürek was the head of the Turkish National Police (EGM) Intelligence Directorate and Demir was the head of the police department in the Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak.