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Turkey4 July 2007

Police say Hrant Dink’s killers were just a group of friends acting on their own initiative

Reporters Without Borders learned today that the General Directorate for Security sent a report to the court trying newspaper editor Hrant Dink’s alleged murderers which says they were not members of a terrorist organisation but were just a group of friends acting on their own initiative under the leadership of Yasin Hayal, one of the defendants.

When Hayal was released from prison after serving an 11-month sentence for throwing a bomb at a McDonalds restaurant in Trabzon (their home town) in 2004, he decided to organise an attack against Dink because of his articles, the report says. It also says that fellow defendant Erhan Tuncel was just another member of the group, and had ceased to work as police informant on 23 November 2006.

“The aim of this report is to exonerate the security forces,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But if the police say they had not used Tuncel as an informer since November 2006, Tuncel told the court he warned the security forces that an attack on Dink was being prepared. So the question remains as to whether these warnings were ignored.”

Erdal Dogan, one of the Dink family’s lawyers, said of this report: “It minimises the importance of the organisation responsible for this murder which, in my view, had much bigger ambitions - to attack individual freedoms and the rule of law.”

The trial of Dink’s alleged killers opened in Istanbul on 2 July. Four of the 18 defendants were released at the end of the first hearing, which lasted more than 12 hours. Those freed included Sali Hacisalihoglu, who is said to have provide the bullets to Ogün Samast, the youth who allegedly shot Dink. The next hearing has been set for 1 October.

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