Five former police officers recently detained on the charge of “negligence on public duty” have been released, and four others under arrest have been cleared of charges of “committing deliberate murder,” “forming an illegal organization,” and “membership of an illegal organization to commit crime” in the murder case of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The nine suspects are reported to have been on duty in police departments in Istanbul, Ankara and the Black Sea province of Trabzon when Dink was murdered on Jan. 19, 2007.
Former head of the Trabzon Police Department Intelligence Unit Faruk Sarı, along with former police officers Yılmaz Angın, Bülent Demireleski, Osman Gülbel, Mehmet Ayhan, and Onur Karakaya, were all released on a ruling issued by the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of Peace early Oct. 8 after being detained Oct. 7 on the charge “negligence on public duty.”
The court ruling also suggested the dismissal of the charges “committing deliberate murder,” “forming an illegal organization,” and “membership of an illegal organization to commit crime” against four former police officers under arrest in the case, Ramazan Akyürek, Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu and Muhittin Zenit.
Akyürek, Zenit, Mumcu and Demir were previously arrested for negligence on duty that caused Dink’s murder and were sent to prison as the ruling suggested keeping the four under arrest on the charge “negligence on duty that caused death.”
At the time of Dink’s murder, Akyürek was the head of the Turkish National Police (EGM) Intelligence Directorate and Demir was the head of the police department in the Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak.
The ruling came hours after Istanbul Police Department Counterterrorism Unit officers detained seven former police officers on Oct. 7, upon Gökalp Kökçü, the chief public prosecutor heading the investigation, issuing of detention warrants for nine police officers, including Sarı, Angın, Demireleski, Gülbel, Ayhan and Karakaya.
Dink, who was editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Agos, was shot dead outside its office building in Istanbul’s Şişli district on Jan. 19, 2007 by a 17-year-old named Ogün Samast.
Relatives and followers of the case have claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.