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Turkey28 September 2007

As Dink murder trial resumes, authorities urged to prosecute all those who knew about murder plot

On the eve of the second hearing in the trial of the alleged killers of Armenian-Turkish newspaper editor Hrant Dink, Reporters Without Borders today called on the authorities to go after all those who instigated or knew about the plan to kill him. Dink was gunned down in Istanbul on 19 January.

“Thanks to the Dink family’s efforts, some progress has been made since the first hearing on 2 July,” the press freedom organisation said. “It shows the authorities have begun to realise the seriousness of this case, and we welcome that. But this initial progress is not enough. All the people who participated in this murder, and all those who were aware of its preparation and did nothing to stop it, must also be prosecuted and punished according to the law.”

The second hearing in the trial is due to be held on 1 October in Istanbul. Nineteen persons are being tried for Dink’s murder or complicity in his murder. Only eight of them are currently detained after the court decided to release four of the suspects - Salih Hacisalioglu, Veysel Toprak, Osman Alpay and Irfan Ozkan - during the first hearing.

As a result of a 15 March letter from the victim’s widow, Rakel Dink, urging Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to investigate what happened during the months prior to Dink’s death, Erdogan announced that he has assigned the case to his Commission of Enquiry, a special team that is permanently at his disposal.

Two of the commission’s investigators reportedly went to the northern city of Trabzon, where all the defendants live, to look into the accusations that have been levelled against its security forces. Two members of the city’s police were already being investigated as a result of allegations made by Coskun Igci, the 19th person to be charged. Igci claims he was employed as an informant by the police and warned them that an attack was being prepared on Dink.

After the Dink family filed a new complaint, the family and the two of the leading suspects, Yasin Hayal and Eran Tuncel, were formally questioned again as to what they knew about the role of two police officials in the case.

Nonetheless, Trabzon’s governor decided on 7 August that intelligence chief Ramazan Akyürek, and Trabzon police chief Resat Altay are not to be prosecuted for failing to prevent the murder despite repeated warnings. The Dink family has appealed against the decision not to bring prosecutions against them and against police officers Engin Dinç, Faruk Sari, Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu, Muhittin Zenit and Mehmet Ayhan.

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