ISTANBUL (Today’s Zaman)–Lawyers for the co-plaintiffs in the trial over the murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink yesterday requested documents found during the searches of homes and offices of suspects from the prosecutor investigating Ergenekon, a clandestine organization whose alleged members are currently standing trial in two separate court cases.
Dink was the editor-in-chief of the bilingual Agos daily until he was killed in January of 2007. The 11th hearing of the murder suspects’ trial was heard yesterday with suspects Ogun Samast, Erhan Tuncel, Yasin Hayal, Ahmet Iskender and Ersin Yolcu being brought to the courtroom by prison officers. Lawyers representing the co-plaintiffs in the Dink trial have long alleged that the Dink murder was the doing of Ergenekon.
In yesterday’s hearing, lawyer Fethiye Cetin demanded that the court request documents seized during the Ergenekon probe relating to the organization’s Psychological Action Plan against minorities in Turkey.
Cetin stated that Sevgi Erenerol, currently in jail as an Ergenekon suspect, prepared briefings for certain units of the General Staff, including the Land Forces Command, against missionaries in what she said were presentations pointing fingers at Turkey’s Armenian, Christian and other minorities. She also recalled that CDs and DVDs with similar content had been found during searches of Ergenekon defendant Durmus Ali Ozoglu’s property. “We are particularly interested in activities in the Black Sea region regarding Armenian minorities. The Ergenekon prosecutors have said that Ozoglu worked in the ‘psychological operations’ of the organization.”
Ergenekon’s plan against minorities
Cetin stated that Dink’s killing, along with the 2006 killing of an Italian priest and the 2007 killing of three Christians in Malatya, was part of an operation in the works being carried out by Ergenekon. Cetin said that the acts of some Ergenekon suspects in turning Hrant Dink into a target for ultranationalist people and groups were very “open.” She recalled that when Dink was facing charges under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301, which then criminalized “insulting Turkishness,” some of the people who are in jail now as alleged Ergenekon members brought crowds of protestors and even attacked Dink and his supporters as they entered and left the courtroom.
In addition to the suspects, a large number of high-profile spectators including Dink’s wife, Rakel Dink, and other family members; Democratic Society Party (DTP) deputy Sebahat Tuncel; Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy and head of the Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, Zafer Uskul; co-chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commission, Helene Flautre; Ali Yurttagül, a political advisor for the Greens in the European Parliament; and Vincent Niore and Alexandre Couyoumdjian, representing the Bar Associations of Brussels and Paris, also attended yesterday’s hearing.
Meanwhile, a group gathering at the Beşiktaş Barbaros Square, not far from the courthouse, protested the Hrant Dink murder by unrolling posters that read, “For Hrant, for Justice.”
Wanting justice for Dink
Actor Mahir Gunsiray, in a statement on behalf of the group, claimed there were attempts to cover up the real culprits behind the murder.
Indeed, the Dink murder trial has been riddled with controversy from the day the hit-man, Ogun Samast, was arrested for the murder. A parliamentary committee investigating the probe established in a report in April last year that the security forces were tipped off about the plot to kill Dink before the murder but did not act. This committee also called on high-ranking gendarmerie officers to testify, but none of them showed up on the day they were scheduled to testify. Similar details have come up in previous trials. For example, Coakun Igci, a local security informer near Trabzon — the hometown of most of the suspects — and a relative of one of the accused, Yasin Hayal, told the court that many people, including himself, knew that Hayal had been preparing to kill Dink for a long time. He also confirmed that he was unable to stop him from acquiring a gun and out of anxiety got in touch with two gendarmerie security officials on more than one occasion.