ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—A former police intelligence head accused of “negligence” over the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has been suspended from duty following a long internal investigation, even though an administrative court initially rejected demands for his removal.
Ramazan Akyürek, who served as the head of police intelligence between May 2006 and October 2009, during which time Dink was murdered in January 2007, received a notice of suspension on the grounds that he “erased information in his past duties” in a manner that was contrary to regulations.
Inspectors allegedly determined that some of that information Akyürek erased may be related to the period during which Dink was assassinated after receiving increasing threats.
The Interior Ministry was seeking Akyürek’s dismissal on the basis that he “tarnished the image and credibility of the police department” due to his negligence in Dink’s murder.
Police officers who notified Akyürek of his suspension March 16 also seized his police identity and gun.
Akyürek had controversially received two promotions after serving as the head of police intelligence, despite claims of wrongdoing during Dink’s murder.
He was first appointed as the head of the Department of Strategy Development and then as the head of the Inspection Board in the Police Department Headquarters – despite being the subject to an investigation himself. The Interior Ministry discharged Akyürek from his post in connection to those accusations in October 2013 and appointed him as an expert to the Department of Strategy Development, where he served until being removed as part of the mass purges in the wake of the Dec. 17, 2013, graft probe.
Akyürek also served as the head of the police in the Black Sea province of Trabzon between December 2003 and May 2006. Father Andrea Santoro was murdered at a church in the area on February 2006 under his watch.
‘Close to Gülen movement’
It has been claimed that former Istanbul Gov. Erol Çakır made a note in Akyürek’s record that he was close to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
Akyürek’s stellar ascension within the police continued despite a very poor record and a number of criminal events occurring under his responsibility.
One of the key suspects in Dink’s murder, Erhan Tuncel, became a police informant with Akyürek’s approval when he was serving in Trabzon. Tuncel was one of the perpetrators of the bombing of a McDonalds in the city in 2004, immediately after Akyürek was appointed to the Black Sea province.
Tuncel claimed he warned the local police about a plot to murder Dink in Istanbul in 2007. It subsequently came to light, however, that Akyürek had conveyed only one out of 11 notices to the Istanbul Police Department.
Dink was shot to death in front of his Istanbul office in broad daylight on Jan. 19, 2007.