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Turkey6 March 2008

Trabzon police accuse Istanbul police of failing to prevent Hrant Dink’s murder

Senior police and gendarmerie officials from Istanbul and the northeastern city of Trabzon blamed each other for the failure to take the necessary measures to prevent Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink’s murder when they were questioned at the end of last month by the parliamentary subcommittee for human rights as part of its probe into the Dink murder.

The editor of the newspaper Agos, Dink was gunned down outside his newspaper’s office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007, some time after the Trabzon police learned of a plot to kill him.

“We reiterate our call for all those investigating the role of the security forces in connection with the Dink murder to make every effort to establish who was responsible for what,” Reporters Without Borders said. “To this end, we think it is important that the police officers implicated should be tried at the same time as Dink’s alleged murderers.”

When the parliamentary subcommittee questioned Trabzon intelligence department chief Engin Dinç on 28 February, he reportedly identified Erhan Tuncel, who is charged with being one of the masterminds of Dink’s murder, as a police informer. Dinç said he only spoke with Tuncel once to ask him to convince Yasin Hayal, another of the Dink trial defendants, not to kill Dink.

Dinç accused Ahmet Ilhan Güler, the head of the Istanbul police intelligence department, of failing to react after the Trabzon police issued an alert about a murder plot. The accusation had already been made to the subcommittee by former Trabzon police chief Ramazan Akyürek, now head of police intelligence in Ankara.

During his appearance before the subcommittee, Akyürek said he alerted the police in 81 cities of “possible attacks against minorities,” adding that “it was not necessary to identify Hrant Dink by name.” Akyürek directly accused Istanbul police chief Celalettin Cerrah of failing to react to his alert. According to Agos, the subcommittee has decide to question Cerrah again, this time in Ankara.

The Dink family and its lawyers are calling for all the Trabzon and Istanbul police officers involved in the case to be charged and tried in Istanbul.

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