ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—A former Trabzon intelligence bureau chief has been released from arrest over his alleged role in the murder of Armenian-origin Turkish journalist Hrant Dink.
Upon a demand by three arrested suspects and their lawyers during the seventh hearing of the murder case, the Istanbul 14th Court of Serious Crimes ordered the release of Ercan Demir on the grounds that the nature of the charges against him could change and that the benefits obtained from the arrest could be maintained by judicial control. Nonetheless, a travel ban has been placed on Demir.
With Demir’s release, the number of arrested suspects in the case – which has 35 total suspects – has been reduced to two.
Meanwhile, the court maintained arrest warrants against suspects Ahmet İskender, Coşgun Çakar and Yunus Yazar.
The next hearings of the case are scheduled for August 8, 9, 11 and 12.
Relatives and followers of the case have claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.
Turkey’s top court in July 2014 ruled that the investigation into the killing had been flawed, paving the way for the trial of the police officials.
All the names of the suspects implicated in the investigation were reported to have been on duty in police departments in Istanbul, Ankara and Trabzon at the time of Dink’s murder.
Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos in central Istanbul on January 19, 2007.
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 the security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.