Turkish Justice Ministry clears way for probe of ex-Police Chief in Dink murder case

The Justice Ministry has cleared the path for investigations into nine civil servants, including the former police chief of Istanbul Celalettin Cerrah, who are accused of negligence in the murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Lawyers representing Dink’s family had long requested an investigation into the nine civil servants, but their initial demand was rejected by the Istanbul Governor’s Office.

However, a high criminal court in the city later upheld the family’s appeal and lifted the nonsuit ruling, prompting prosecutors to file an appeal to the Justice Ministry.

The ministry eventually rejected the prosecutors’ appeal on Oct. 22 with a decision that caps a long legal battle and which may prove substantial in the retrial as the investigation process has been stalled, despite a recent Constitutional Court decision ruling that the murder case was not efficiently investigated.

Along with Cerrah, Ergun Güngör and Istanbul Police Department Intelligence Head Ahmet İlhan Güler are among the nine individuals requested to be investigated by Dink’s lawyers.

Dink was shot dead by Ogün Samast in broad daylight on a busy street outside the offices of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, which he edited, in central Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007, in an assassination that sent shockwaves throughout Turkey.

Samast was sentenced to over 22 years in jail for the murder, but lawyers representing the Dink family have repeatedly expressed their dismay over the lack of investigation regarding the individuals or groups who allegedly commissioned the murder.

Lawyers representing Dink’s family have said the retrial, which started a year ago, could bring progress to the investigation. But one of the key suspects of the case, Erhan Tuncel, a former police informant, was recently released pending the trial.

Backing up widespread accusations of a state conspiracy, Tuncel claimed in December 2013 that he had informed the police of the plan, but his warnings went unheeded.

The investigations of the key former police officers may bring to light many aspects of the murder that have remained unknown.

According to reports, Dink was called to a police department and “warned” about the plot against him, fueling the belief that the murder was known by some institutions within the state beforehand.

One of Dink’s lawyers, Fehriye Çetin, argued in a book published last year on the case that the order to kill was given by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) via an encrypted message.

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