ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—Footage published by a Turkish broadcaster appears to show that six former gendarmerie intelligence officers complicit in the 2007 assassination of journalist Hrant Dink. In the video footage published by A Haber, they can be seen near the scene at the time of the murder of the Armenian-origin Turkish journalist in 2007.
In the footage, unearthed as part of a probe trying former gendarmerie officials suspected of having links to FETÖ and being involved in the July 15 coup attempt, investigators observed that six gendarmerie intelligence officers currently under arrest were present close to the scene when Dink’s murder took place on the afternoon of January 19, 2007, strengthening the suspicion that they were in close contact with the assailant of the murder, Ogün Samast.
The prosecutor in the case has accused the Fetullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) of staging the assassination.
In his demand for the arrest of the suspects, Dink probe prosecutor Gökalp Kökçü said it would be “far from a legal definition” to identify the acts of the suspects as mere membership or leadership in an armed terrorist organization in light of the failed July 15 coup attempt, which has been blamed on FETÖ. Kökçü claimed that the Dink murder was the “first bullet fired” on the road to the coup.
Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos in central Istanbul.
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 security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.
Relatives and followers of the case have long 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.
In January 2016, Supreme Court of Appeals ruled to tie the main case into Dink’s murder and prosecution into the public officers’ negligence to prevent the killing of Dink. Indictments for 26 people are now included in the merged case.