Erhan Tuncel, suspect in Dink trial, brought to courthouse for testimony

Erhan Tuncel, who was previously acquitted of all charges related to the 2007 killing of Hrant Dink, the late editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, was brought to an Istanbul courthouse on Friday to testify, Today’s Zaman reports. 

The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court, which has started a retrial in the Dink case, issued an arrest warrant for Tuncel in September, and he was detained by police on Oct. 24.

TheUstanbul court launched the new trial after the Supreme Court of Appeals in May overturned the court’s ruling of Jan. 17, 2012, in which it dismissed the involvement of an organized criminal network in the murder.

Tuncel, who worked as an informant for the Trabzon Police Department, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the 2004 bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant in the Black Sea city of Trabzon but was acquitted of all charges regarding the Dink murder, including prosecutors’ claims in the first trial that he was the one who ordered Yasin Hayal, the man who was given a life sentence for soliciting Dink’s shooter, to murder him.

Dink’s lawyers earlier said the Supreme Court of Appeals’ 9th Criminal Chamber had indicated in its May decision that Tuncel may have played a crucial role in the murder of Dink.

Hayal and Tuncel, along with all other defendants, were acquitted of charges of membership in a terrorist organization in the local court’s ruling.

Dink was shot and killed in broad daylight on Jan. 19, 2007, by an ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of his newspaper in İstanbul. Evidence discovered since then has led to claims that the murder was linked to the “deep state,” a term used in reference to a shady group of military and civilian bureaucrats believed to have links to criminal elements.

In an interview with the Star daily last month, Tuncel accused the gendarmerie of having a “big role” in the murder of the Armenian journalist.

Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, who is supervising the investigation, asked that Tuncel be brought to the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. The next hearing of the case will be on Dec. 3. The prosecutors first heard testimony from Ogün Samast, who pulled the trigger and killed Dink.

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