ISTANBUL—Five years after the assassination of journalist Hrant Dink, evidence related to the real perpetrators of the crime is still being covered up, the Dink family’s lawyer, Fethiye Cetin, who has been the chief attorney in the case, said.
“Long ago, in 2008, we demanded the records of phone calls made in the vicinity of the assassination on the day of the murder. We were only able to have those records in court recently, a week before the case is going to be closed. Moreover, police provided misleading information to the court about the phone records,” Cetin told Today’s Zaman following the 24th hearing of the trial, which took place on Monday at the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court.
The late editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, Dink was shot dead by an ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of his newspaper in broad daylight in Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007. The investigation into his murder stalled as the suspected perpetrator and his accomplices were put on trial, but those who masterminded the plot to kill him have yet to be exposed and punished.
Cetin said that contrary to the police investigation, which found no phone conversations among the suspects on the day of the murder, the Dink family attorneys found with their limited resources at least five cell phone numbers belonging to people who were present at the crime scene on the day of the murder that were directly connected to Mustafa Ozturk and Sahil Hacısalihoglu, two suspects in the investigation.
The Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) told the court that 6,235 phone conversations took place in the vicinity at the time of the murder and that 9,300 people were carrying cell phones in the area. It also said their records showed no link to any of the cell phones.
“TIB’s statement is not true,” Çetin said, adding that one of the numbers assigned to a cell phone present in the area at the time of the murder was used in 19 calls to suspect Mustafa Ozturk between the dates Oct. 22, 2005 – about two years prior to the murder – and Jan. 27, 2007.
She accused the Istanbul Police Department of misleading judicial institutions, obscuring evidence and attempting to keep the truth from coming out.
Asked about what she expects out of the court’s judgment next week when it is likely to end the case, Çetin said they demand life sentences with no possibility of parole for the instigators of the murder.
“It is up to the court to rule. The court is willing to reach a judgment soon because of a possibility of discharge since the suspects have been on trial for almost five years now,” she said.
According to the Dink family’s lawyers, bureaucracy and institutions resist solving the murder in its entirety because there is a lack of political will to move the investigation along.
After the finalization of the case by the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court, the Dink case is supposed to go to the Supreme Court of Appeals.
“The Istanbul court demanded the prosecution examine the TIB records more thoroughly. If there is new evidence, the case could be reopened with an additional indictment,” Cetin said, Today’s Zaman reported.