Dink Lawyers Say Future of Ongoing Case is Bleak

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)– It has been two years since the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in front of the offices of the daily Agos in central Istanbul and the Dink family’s lawyers are concerned the case will not be broadened enough to cover all aspects of the assassination. Security forces accused of negligence or of hiding evidence are not being investigated.

As the 10th hearing of the Hrant Dink murder case was held Monday in Besiktas, the Turkish-Armenian journalist’s lawyers, family and supporters were losing hope of shedding light on the people, including public officials, responsible for his 2007 shooting death.

Kemal Aytac, one of the Dink family’s lawyers present in court Monday, said it seemed the case would not be broadened enough.”Erhan Tuncel, one of the suspects, is a police inspector. But the court could not touch any police officials so far,” Aytac told Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Out of 41 security forces who were suspects in charge of “hiding evidence from the prosecutors” or “destroying evidence,” none of the police officers were allowed to be investigated, and gendarmes are tried in a separate court. The lawyers’ request to merge all the cases and investigate the suspect police officers has not been accepted.

During the 10th trial, suspects Ogun Samast, the suspected gunman in Dink’s shooting on Jan. 19, 2007, in front of bilingual daily Agos, Erhan Tuncel, Yasin Hayal, Ersin Yolcu and Ahmet Iskender were present.

The Dink family, including the slain journalist’s wife, Rakel Dink, as well as writer Adalet Agaoglu and former head of the Istanbul Bar Association Yucel Sayman, were present in court. Witness Mesme Havva told the court that she saw the murder as she was walking one step behind Dink. She said a young man pushed her and shot Dink in the back of his head. Havva confirmed that she said in her previous disposition that she heard the young man shout, “Die, Armenian, die,” after shooting Dink.

The suspects were smiling at each other and sometimes at the witness during the trial. As Havva was about to identify them, they continued their behavior until Judge Erkan Canak warned the suspects to respect the court and avoid laughing or smile at anyone during the trial.

Havva also mentioned another man who gestured with his head to leave, after which two men started to flee the scene. Security cameras later showed a figure suspected to be Samast running down the street.

Havva picked out Yasin Hayal and said he was the “second man waiting near the street.” Hayal said there was evidence that he was in Trabzon at the time of murder. Hayal also apologized to the court for his “aggressive behavior” in previous trials. The judge continued to read a statement by witness Mesut Oz, who said he and Dink bumped into each other on the street in Istanbul’s Bakirkoy district three or four days before the murder. Oz said Dink invited him to sit in a café, during which time they talked for about half an hour. In his written statement, Oz said he saw a man watching them, and that he later he had seen that same man on TV and learned that he was Ogun Samast.

“There was another man who was short and fat, and I did not see him on TV after the murder,” Oz said.

Samast, however, denied the statement and said he only went to Bayrampasa, the crime scene in Sisli and Eyup. Bahri Belen, the Dink family’s lawyer, asked the court to call Öz as a witness to see if he could identify the second man that he saw with Samast among the 20 suspects.

Yves Oschinsky, president of the Brussels Bar Association and president of the International Conference of the Bars, or CIB, Alexandre Aslanian, a lawyer from the Paris Bar Association and Vincent Niore from the Paris Bar Association watched the trial. They made a statement after the first hearing that they support the Dink family and their lawyers.

 

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