Turkish ex-police chiefs on trial over Armenian journalist’s murder

Dozens of former Turkish public officials, including former police chiefs, went on trial on April 19 on charges of negligence over the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 that sent shockwaves around the country, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

The suspects face accusations of failing to uncover the plot to murder Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos and a passionate advocate of reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.

A total of 34 suspects — including eight who are under arrest — went on trial in the first hearing at the Istanbul criminal court, Anadolu Agency reported.

Among those on trial are the former national police intelligence chief Ramazan Akyürek, former Istanbul police chief Celalettin Cerrah and former Istanbul police intelligence chief İlhan Güler.

Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos in central Istanbul on January 19, 2007.

Ogün Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.

But the case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.

Also among those on trial on April 19 was Ercan Demir, who was police intelligence chief of the Black SeaTrabzon region where the gunman came from.

Anatolia said that another prominent suspect, former top Istanbul police official Ali Fuat Yılmazer, was already under arrest as part of investigations into the outlawed group of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, the arch enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

There have been numerous indications that the authorities want to emphasise the alleged links between the suspects and Gülen, whose followers are the subject of a major nationwide crackdown.

Turkey’s top court in July 2014 ruled that the investigation into the killing had been flawed, paving the way for the trial of the police officials.

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