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Turkey21 March 2008

Two Trabzon gendarmes accuse superiors of doing nothing to stop Dink murder

Two gendarmes from the northeastern city of Trabzon, Okan Simsek and Veysel Sahin, testified yesterday in court that they told their superiors about plans to kill journalist Hrant Dink six months before his murder on 19 January 2007, but their superiors did nothing and later threatened them with reprisals if they mentioned the information.

Simsek and Sahin, who are on trial for failing to react after learning about a plot to murder Dink, said they told the head of the Trabzon gendarmerie and their unit chief that they had learned from police informer Coskun Igci that a relative of his, Yasin Hayal, was plotting Dink’s murder. Hayal is himself currently on trial as one of the murder’s masterminds.

“The confessions of these two Trabzon gendarmes are chilling,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The security forces in Trabzon might have been able to prevent Dink’s murder if they had taken action. All those who were aware of this information and did nothing must be severely punished.”

Questioned in court yesterday in Trabzon, the two gendarmes said they were ordered to perjure themselves when there was an investigation after Dink’s murder. They accused their superiors of doing nothing to ensure that adequate measures were taken to prevent the murder.

Their testimony confirms what Igci, the informer, told a police court in Trabzon three months ago, on 22 January. The two gendarmes added that a report detailing Igci’s information was subsequently written on the orders of gendarme commanders Ali Öz and Metin Yildiz and was backdated to 20 January 2007 to make it look as though it was sent immediately after Dink’s murder.

The court trying the two gendarmes has summoned all 10 senior gendarme officers who were allegedly told at a meeting of the plan to murder Dink.

A criminal court in the Istanbul suburb of Sili meanwhile sentenced Zafer Filiz yesterday to three years in prison for sending a racist and threatening email to the headquarters of Dink’s newspaper, Agos, on 1 February 2007, 12 days after his murder.




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