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Turkey19 January 2009

Call for an end to impunity for security forces on second anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder

On the second anniversary today of the murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its solidarity with his family, colleagues and friends. The editor of the weekly Agos, Dink was gunned down outside the Agos office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007 by Ogun Samast, a youth from the northeastern city of Trabzon. Two Trabzon men, Erhan Tuncel and Yasin Hayal, were the alleged masterminds.

“We join all those who continue to mourn Hrant Dink and who want justice done,” Reporters Without Borders said. “And we call for all the different aspects of the case to be tried together, as this is the only way to end the scandalous impunity enjoyed by those members of the security services who knew there was a plot to kill Dink and yet did nothing to stop it.”

There is no longer any doubt about the fact that members of the police force and gendarmerie were aware of the murder plot and failed to react. A report by the prime minister’s office on 2 December directly implicated the security forces.

“Intelligence about preparations for an attack by Yasin Hayal, the fact that the Armenian patriarch, Mesrob Mutafyan, had requested protection for Armenian institutions (because of the tension resulting from France’s decision to make it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide) and the events that took place during Hrant Dink’s trial all justified the utmost vigilance,” the report says. “The Directorate for Security arguably failed in its duty by neglecting to place Dink under protection.”

(JPEG) The same report recommends that the head of general intelligence in Ankara, Ramazan Akyürek, should be investigated. Trabzon chief of police prior to Dink’s murder, Akyürek had agreed to Erhan Tuncel’s working as police informer. Akyürek is accused of failing to ensure there was a sufficient follow-up to the information he was given, and of failing to coordinate the efforts of the various services so that Dink would be protected.

Another report, by the interior ministry, says the entire Istanbul police command acted with negligence in this case.

So far, only members of the Trabzon gendarmerie have been prosecuted and the Istanbul police continue to enjoy complete impunity. On 27 June 2008, the Istanbul regional administrative court banned any investigation of police chief Celattin Cerrah and seven other officials, including intelligence chief Ahmet Ilhan Güler, insisting that that they made no mistakes.

The Dink family lawyers say Law 4483 governing judicial proceedings against state officials poses a major obstacle to any prosecutions. “The senior officials we accuse in this case are precisely the ones who have so far been briefing the prosecutors conducting the investigations,” the lawyers say. “It is no coincidence that our complaints alleging ‘falsification of documents’ have gone nowhere.”

The lawyers want the eight members of the security forces prosecuted under article 83 of the criminal code, which punishes “negligence resulting in the death of another person” rather than for just “negligence,” as has been the case so far.

The lawyers have brought three complaints before the European Court of Human Rights. They have also brought a complaint before the High Council for the Judiciary against the three judges who banned any judicial proceedings against the Istanbul police chief and his aides.

The trial of Samast, Tuncel, Hayal and 16 other defendants on charges ranging from “deliberate homicide” to “membership of a terrorist organisation” began before an Istanbul court of assizes on 2 July 2007 and is still under way.

At the same time, two gendarmes are being tried by a magistrate’s court in Trabzon and six other gendarmes have been charged, including the head of the gendarmerie in Trabzon.

Several demonstrations in Dink’s memory are being organised in Istanbul. One was held by the “Friends of Hrant Dink” at 2:30 p.m. today at the site of the murder, in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Osmanbey. A concert is being organised on 22 January in the district of Beyoglu, the proceedings of which will be handed over to the Hrant Dink International Foundation. An exhibition entitled “Hrant Dink and the Fraternity of Peoples” will run until 6 February.

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