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Turkey22 January 2007

Police urged to probe deeper after 17-year-old arrested for editor’s murder

Following the arrest of a 17-year-old youth who has reportedly confessed to the 19 January murder of newspaper editor and columnist Hrant Dink, Reporters Without Borders today joined the executives and staff of Dink’s newspaper, the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, in urging the police to probe further with a view to identifying those who may have been behind the murder or in any other way responsible.

“It would be inconceivable for the police to content themselves with just arresting the man who pulled the trigger,” the press freedom organisation said. “The Turkish authorities must make it clear they are determined to find and punish any instigators, and to identify all those who may have had a role in this tragedy. This is an essential condition for preventing any recurrence and for healing the wounds left by this awful murder.”

Ogun Samast, 17, was arrested on the evening of 20 January in the city of Samsun, on the Black Sea, as he was returning from Istanbul to Tabzron, his home town. He is said to have admitted to firing several shots at Dink at around 2 p.m. on 19 January outside the offices of the privately-owned Agos in Istanbul. He reportedly said he did not regret shooting Dink and did it because Dink “insulted the Turkish people.”

The Istanbul state prosecutor yesterday said the police were trying to determine whether Samast acted alone. Samast was arrested after his father recognised him when video footage recorded by a neighbouring shop’s surveillance camera was broadcast on television. The police have also detained seven other people.

Dink had been the target of several prosecutions for referring to the 1915 massacres of Armenians and had received a six-month suspended sentence in 2005. At the time of his death, he had been facing a possible three-year prison sentence because of an interview he gave to Reuters in which he referred to the 1915 massacres as “genocide.”

Around 10,000 people gathered outside the offices of Agos in Sisli, a district on the European side of Istanbul, on the evening of 19 January in homage to Dink.


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