ISTANBUL (Dogan News Agency)—Five former police officers recently detained on the charge of “negligence on public duty” have been released, and four others under arrest have been cleared of charges of “committing deliberate murder,” “forming an illegal organization,” and “membership of an illegal organization to commit crime,” in the murder case of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
The nine suspects are reported to have been on duty in police departments in Istanbul, Ankara and the Black Sea province of Trabzon when Dink was murdered on January 19, 2007.
Former head of the Trabzon Police Department Intelligence Unit Faruk Sari, along with former police officers Yilmaz Angin, Bulent Demireleski, Osman Gulbel, Mehmet Ayhan, and Onur Karakaya, were all released on a ruling issued by the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of Peace early on October 8 after being detained October 7 on the charge of “negligence on public duty.”
The court ruling also suggested the dismissal of the charges of “committing deliberate murder,” “forming an illegal organization,” and “membership of an illegal organization to commit crime,” against four former police officers under arrest in the case, Ramazan Akyurek, Ercan Demir, Ozkan Mumcu and Muhittin Zenit.
Akyurek, Zenit, Mumcu and Demir were previously arrested for negligence on duty that caused Dink’s murder and were sent to prison as the ruling suggested keeping the four under arrest on the charge of “negligence on duty that caused death.”
At the time of Dink’s murder, Akyurek 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 Sirnak.
The ruling came hours after the Istanbul Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers detained seven former police officers on October 7, upon Gokalp Kokcu, the chief public prosecutor heading the investigation, issuing of detention warrants for nine police officers, including Sari, Angin, Demireleski, Gulbel, Ayhan and Karakaya.
Dink, who was editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Agos, was shot dead outside its office building in Istanbul’s Sisli district on January 19, 2007 by a 17-year-old named Ogun Samast.
Relatives and followers of the case have claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.