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Turkey19 March 2007

Murdered journalist’s family want proof of government’s intention to punish all those responsible

Reporters Without Borders today backed lawyers for the family of Hrant Dink, the murdered Turkish-Armenian editor of the weekly newspaper Agos, in a call to the Istanbul chief prosecutor to punish all those who failed to act on information that could have prevented Dink’s murder in Istanbul on 19 January.

Lawyer Fethiye Cetin said in the 15 March request that at least 17 messages warning of a plot to kill the journalist had been sent to Istanbul police by police in Trabzon, where many of the suspects live. The lawyers also demanded that all legal procedures in the case be transferred to an Istanbul court.

Reporters Without Borders said it expected “action against police who displayed disgraceful negligence in the murder of Dink and some of whom showed sympathy for the suspected killer. However, the authorities have hardly been convincing in their condemnation of the murder.”

Cetin and his colleague Bahri Bayram Belen told the media that the murder could not have been an isolated act only involving people in the Pelitli neighbourhood of Trabzon. The numerous attacks by ultra-nationalist groups since a bomb blast at a McDonald’s restaurant in Trabzon in 2004 have continued since Dink’s death, they said, suggesting that a “terrorist group threatening the democratic rule of law” was responsible.

Cetin demanded to know what had become of official legal action begun against police in Samsun, the town where the suspected killer, Ogün Samast, was arrested and where police officers had taken “souvenir” photos of themselves with Samast.

Reporters Without Borders said the government had shown “little evidence of its intention to put an end to ultra-nationalist violence” and “repeated threats to journalists and intellectuals discussing the 1915 massacres of Armenians and the Kurdish question.”

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