Hrant Dink’s gunman accuses two former police chiefs of murder

Ogün Samast, the triggerman who shot Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink dead almost eight years ago, has claimed that two former police chiefs are responsible for Dink’s murder, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Samast, who had sent a letter to the prosecutor in charge of the investigation of Dink’s murder saying he wanted to “speak up” on Nov. 17, testified on Dec. 5 as a “witness.”

He accused Ramazan Akyürek, then-police chief of Trabzon, and Ali Fuat Yılmazer, then-Istanbul police intelligence chief, of being behind the murder.

“They made me do the assassination. Yasin [Hayal] is taking the blame and saying, ‘I did it,’ but he isn’t saying the names behind it. If my words are investigated, the people behind [the murder] will be found. The truth will be found if the relations between the policemen, whose registration numbers I gave, Akyürek, Yılmazer and other individuals whose names are in the court file, are investigated,” Samast said in his testimony to Istanbul prosecutor Yusuf Doğan.

Dink was assassinated by Samast in broad daylight on a busy street outside the office of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos in Istanbul’s Şişli district on Jan. 19, 2007. The assassination caused outrage across the country, sending hundreds of thousands to the streets in mass rallies.

Samast, who is serving 22 years and 10 months in the high-security F-type prison in Kandıra, Kocaeli, said he met Hayal, who is serving an aggravated life sentence, in the Black Sea province of Trabzon. He said he met Erhan Tuncel, a former police informant who was released pending trial, through Hayal.

“Hayal brought me to Tuncel’s house [before the murder] and I overheard them speaking. Erhan and Yasin were talking about the incident. I started listening when Erhan said ‘Ramazan Akyürek and Fuat the manager.’ Yasin said ‘then our backs are safe.’ When we left the house, I told Yasin ‘I know Ramazan Akyürek, he administered here in Trabzon, but who is Fuat?’ Yasin answered by saying ‘they are Erhan’s acquaintances,’” said Samast.

He added that Hayal had said Akyürek and even the Istanbul chief of police at the time knew about the incident and were all behind it.

“Think, the job is big, you will be a hero. I will put you into a lot of trouble if you bail out,” Samast quoted Hayal as saying.

The investigation into Dink’s murder case took a different path after the government launched a fight against the so-called “parallel structure,” which the government uses to refer to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. The Justice Ministry cleared the way for investigations into nine civil servants accused of negligence in Dink’s murder.

The government started the fight against the “parallel structure” after two graft probes into around 100 people – including four former ministers, their sons, Azeri-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, former manager of state-run Halkbank and a construction tycoon – was launched in December 2013, marking Turkey’s biggest ever corruption case.

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