Istanbul court releases two suspects in Hrant Dink murder case

An Istanbul court on Feb. 13 ruled to release two suspects from the gendarmerie in the Black Sea province of Trabzon in the case into the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

The two who have been identified as being released after filing appeals are gendarmerie intelligence officer Veysel Şahin and Okan Şimşek, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Şimşek’s lawyer, Mehmet Tahsin Soner, had appealed the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court’s Feb. 2 ruling that ordered his continued imprisonment.

The court on Feb. 13 acknowledged that both Şimşek and Şahin had known of a plot to kill Dink in the year before the assassination occurred. However, it ordered their release on the grounds that they communicated the information in a timely manner and had already spent enough time in jail.

As a condition of their release, Şahin and Şimşek are both legally bound to check in at the nearest the police station weekly and are forbidden to travel abroad under a judicial control order.

Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Istanbul-based weekly Agos, was shot dead at the age of 52 in broad daylight outside his office in central Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.

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

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

Relatives and followers of the case have long claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.

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

With the release of Şimşek and Şahin, the number of suspects held in the Dink case has dropped to nine.

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