Two years have passed since Hrant
Dink’s murder. In a report a year ago we evaluated the trial so far thus:
*The murder of Hrant Dink,
preparations for his murder, making him a public target, encouraging his
murder, the involvement of security forces, the preparation of a hitman and the
carrying out of the murder are all part of the same process. However, although
this sequence of events needs to be looked at as a whole, it has been separated
into parts. Thus, the organs investigating the events are blind to the whole
sequence. If the period before and after the murder is not considered together
with the murder, then the Hrant Dink murder investigation will not reach any
forces and all intelligence units had determined that Hrant Dink’s life was
under serious and imminent threat. Intelligence units had even been informed of
all the details concerning the murder plan. Nevertheless, no precautions were
taken. On the contrary, some public officers tried to cover up evidence and hid
information about the gravity of the situation from each other. The
gendarmerie, the police force and MIT (Turkish secret service) did not share
any information about Hrant Dink’s murder. On the contrary, we have seen that
they kept information from each other and, after the murder, accused each
the investigation, those public officers being investigated continued on active
duty. These were people in leading positions, and they were involved in handing
in documents for the investigation themselves. That is, the investigation was
based on the evidence handed in by those under investigation. This alone shows
that the investigation cannot have been independent or reliable.
public officers being investigated did not only offer documents to the administrative
investigation, but also to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office
investigating the murder of Hrant Dink. Some of them are even today giving
evidence and documents in the court case running at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court. It is clear that Hrant
Dink’s murder will not be solved as long as these officers continue on active
duty and are allowed to hand over information, documents and evidence.
two years after the murder, the above statements still hold true. There have been
no positive developments. […]
Main Court Case
development in this case, where a total of 19 suspects were on trial last year
(8 of them in detention), is that another suspect is on trial. Osman Hayal, the
elder brother of suspect Yasin Hayal, has been found to have been in Istanbul on the day of
the murder. Initially a witness in the case, he has now been added to the trial
as a defendant.
2007/428 of the Istanbul
14th Heavy Penal Court
is still continuing in the same building because no more suitable building has
been found. However, the location has been technically equipped to record the
2008, following the 18th birthday of the man accused of carrying out the
shooting, the court hearings were opened to the public. Since then, the court
hearings have been attended by as many members of the public and the press as
the location permits.
from our side to combine the separate investigations in Istanbul
(where the murder took place), Trabzon (where
the hitman and other accused lived) and Samsun
(where the hitman was caught) because there have been legal connections and
shared activities have been rejected continuously. It is noteworthy that the
reasons given for these rejections have not been satisfactory or legal.
times, joint attorneys have filed complaints against security forces at the
Trabzon and Istanbul Prosecutor’s Offices, the Trabzon Criminal Court of Peace
as well as the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court under Article 83 of the Turkish
Criminal Law, arguing that members of the security forces knew about plans to
kill Hrant Dink, but neither prevented the murder nor protected him. However,
after each complaint, both prosecutors and courts ignored the obligations of
the law and rejected these complaints with legally unconvincing arguments.
Istanbul Police Force
Law 4483, three preliminary investigations against Istanbul police officers were initiated
immediately after the murder. However, the regional administrative court put an
end to these three investigations with an uncalled for and openly illegal
commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior sent the case file to experts
twice. These expert intelligence officers were asked to write a report on
whether Istanbul police officers acted
negligently after receiving information sent from Trabzon. Based on the expert opinion, the
investigators prepared a report in which they held the whole Istanbul police force, including chief of
police Celalettin Cerrah, guilty of negligence.
Istanbul police officers claimed they had acted appropriately after the Trabzon
police force sent them information on 17 February 2006 (that is, previous to
the murder), the expert report and preliminary investigation showed that this
was not the case. Measures against Yasin and Osman Hayal were only taken after
the murder had been committed. In addition, the experts and investigators
expressed their suspicion that fake documents were created to cover up the fact
that this only happened after the murder.
these three preliminary investigations and two expert reports, as well as
permission for investigation given by the Istanbul governor’s office three
times, six police officers, including Istanbul head of intelligence Ahmet İlhan
Güler, were exempted from investigation by the Istanbul Regional Administrative
Court. The court ignored five folders with thousands of pages of documents, as well
as the reports. This court decision forced the joint attorneys to apply to the
European Court of Human Rights, as well as to file a complaint against the
judges of the administrative court with the Council of Judges and Prosecutors.
Trabzon Police Force
Istanbul police force is suspected of knowing all the details of the planned
murder and not doing anything to prevent it, and then of obscuring and
destroying evidence after the murder, members of the Trabzon police force have
also escaped any attribution of blame in the investigations.
preliminary report prepared under Law 4483, as well as a decree by the
Governor’s Province Administrative Council, have found the Trabzon police force to be blameless.
Permission to investigate any officer was not given. The objection of the joint
attorneys was rejected by the Trabzon
Regional Administrative Court in a two-line
decree, thus leaving no other options in domestic law.
Trabzon Chief Prosecutor’s Office decided after its investigation of the Trabzon police force that
there was no need for prosecution. When the joint attorneys filed an objection
at the Rize Heavy Penal Court,
it was rejected. Again, there are no other options in domestic law for the
joint attorneys to explore, so they have taken the two cases against the Trabzon police force to
the European Court of Human Rights.
Trabzon Gendarmerie Officers
Following a preliminary
investigation of officers at the Trabzon
gendamerie, two gendarmerie officers, Okan Şimşek and Veysel Şahin, were taken
to the Trabzon
2nd Criminal Court of Peace, charged with negligence. In their statements in
court on 20 March 2008, the two officers said that they had received
intelligence that Yasin Hayal’s brother-in-law Coşkun İğci was going to kill
Hrant Dink. They said that they informed their superiors, but that their
commander Ali Öz changed the topic, saying, “We will talk about this later”;
the topic was never discussed again. Following their statement, other
gendarmerie officers were questioned and supported the statement.
The Trabzon 2nd Criminal Court of Peace then sent
the file to the Trabzon Prosecution in order to file a complaint against
Trabzon Gendarmerie Commander Colonel Ali Öz and other officers. The
prosecution combined this file with the complaint filed by the joint attorneys
and applied for a preliminary investigation to the Ministry of the Interior.
Investigators commissioned by the Ministry decided to initiate an investigation
against these officers. The Trabzon Prosecution then prepared an indictment
against Ali Öz, Metin Yıldız, Hüseyin Yılmaz, H. Ömer Ünalır, Gazi Günay, Okan
Şimşek, Veysel Şahin and Önder Araz and decided to start a trial.
the trial of Şimşek and Şahin had raised expectations, it looks as if the state
will respond in its usual manner. The Trabzon
2nd Criminal Court of Peace came to the conclusion that the crime could not be
considered a simple neglect of duty, and thus sent the file to the Heavy Penal Court
to open a trial under Article 83 of Turkish Criminal Law (see above). However,
the Criminal Court of First Instance charged with decreeing on this change of
courts decided, without offering satisfactory arguments, that the case should
continue to be heard at the Criminal Court of Peace.
Samsun Police and Gendarmerie Officers
development which has shaken people’s trust in the justice system is the
acquittal of Samsun
police officers. Everyone knows that when Ogün Samast, the man accused of
shooting Hrant Dink, was caught in Samsun,
he was taken to the police station. Perhaps because he was under 18 years old,
he was not taken to the cells, but kept in the tea room. He was with police
officers and gendarmerie officers. They queued up to have their photos taken
with Samast, posing with a Turkish flag. Special care was also taken to include
a calendar with the slogan “The soil of the motherland is holy, and it will not
be abandoned” in the pictures. Although these officers treated a murder suspect
not like a suspect but like a hero, although they took photos in their official
uniforms, and although their identities were known, only two officers were
taken to trial. What were they accused of? Of not preventing the pictures from
being leaked to the press and of holding the accused in the tea room.
these two officers, the Samsun Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has decided
that there is no reason for prosecution. Joint attorneys objected to the Çarşamba Heavy Penal Court.
Following a rejection of the objection, they were forced to appeal to the
European Court of Human Rights.
police officers on trial were acquitted by the Samsun 4th Criminal Court of First Instance.
The joint attorneys have lodged an appeal.
Report of the Parliamentary Human
Parliamentary Human Rights Committee has published its report on the Hrant Dink
murder. On page 183 of the report, the committee comes to the following conclusions:
and gendarmerie officers knew of a threat to Hrant Dink. He died because notes
on this threat were not researched fully and necessary action was not taken.
Despite the fact that Coşkun İğci was a registered informant of the Province
Gendarmerie Command, information and intelligence coming from him was
insufficiently investigated and evaluated. Despite the fact that the
administrative units knew about the threat, there was neglect at each stage,
and nothing done to prevent the murder.
of our constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights
states that everyone has a right to life. The state did not fulfill its duty of
protecting this right to life.”
report thus reiterates what all previous investigations found: that all
security forces knew about a planned murder of Hrant Dink but did nothing to
Prime Ministerial Review
On 2 December 2008, the Prime
Ministerial Review Committee prepared a report confirming the findings about
the security forces in previous reports. In addition, new information was
While such new information may
seem like a ray of hope, at the same time this information did not come out
during the countless previous investigations, and it has not reached the courts
dealing with the trials.
In part of the report, it says:
“The Trabzon Province Police Force
received intelligence about a planned murder of Hrant Dink around a year
before. It did not fulfill its duty of investigating the intelligence and
planning an operation and of informing the Istanbul Police Force and the
Similarly, following a letter
from the Trabzon Intelligence Unit to the Istanbul Intelligence Unit on 17
February 2006, in
which it said that “work on the person are continuing”, as well as a phone
conversation between officers of the branches talking about this letter, in
which it was said that Istanbul was to be informed of developments, and
following a report of 7 April 2006 with additional information, the necessary
institutions were not informed.”
intelligence information frmo Yasin Hayal that there was a plan to murder Hrant
Dink, a letter from Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan, death threats made to
Hrant Dink, as well as other events during the period that Hrant Dink was on
trial, the Istanbul Police Force did nothing towards protecting Hrant Dink and
did not show the necessary sensitivity in carrying out its duties.”
according to the findings of the Review Committee, the Trabzon and Istanbul Police failed to do
their duty. The committee also found:
the fact that, following the letter by the Trabzon Intelligence Unit from 17
February 2006, there was enough information (particularly after the dismissal
of informant Erhan Tuncel) to coordinate between the units towards a possible
operation, to follow events and to take measures to protect Hrant Dink, we have
concluded that C Branch Chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer, who neglected to carry out the
necessary evaluations and protective measures outlined in the circular
concerning the Programme of Targeted Persons, as well as Ramazan Akyürek and
other officers, who acted negligently, despite acting as Central Intelligence
Unit deputy chiefs and as Intelligence Unit chief (Akyürek), should be
investigated in a preliminary investigation of the Ministry of the Interior,
following Law No. 4483.
report is signed by the Prime Minister, and it remains to be seen what will
issue that has to be considered is the suspects on trial are either members of
the BBP (Great Unity Party) and the nationalist Alperen Hearths, or, if they
are not members, they had a lot of contact with them.
2002, suspect Yasin Hayal always had relations with the Nizam-ı-Alem Hearths,
an organisaiton with ideological and political connections to the BBP; he
attended meetings and worked there as a teamaker. When the Nizam-ı-Alem Hearths
changed their name to Alperen Hearths, this relation continued. When Yasin
Hayal beat up the priest of the Santa
Maria church, faked bomb alarms, bombed McDonald’s and
took part in the planning of Hrant Dink’s murder, he was a member of the BBP.
Erhan Tuncel was in similar intensive contact with the BBP and the Alperen
Hearths; this is where he met Yasin Hayal. Erhan fought for the leadership of
the hearth with Mustafa Öztürk. The BBP was also important to him. When the
chair of the BBP came to Trabzon,
Erhan Tuncel was one of those accompanying him around the city. He was on
sufficiently intimate friendly terms with the chair to talk to him about Yasin.
According to Erhan’s statements in court, he still has the key to the hearth
Öztürk was the leader of the Alperen Hearth when the murder was being planned.
It is said that the prospective murderers were brought to the hearth and
introduced to him, and that details of the plan were discussed there.
Cihan was BBP Trabzon Province
party chair, he supported Yasin in prison, both materially and morally.
Similarly, Halis Egemen, then BBP central party officer, supported Yasin Hayal
and his family after the latter went to prison for bombing McDonald’s.
television programme broadcast on TRT, entitled “The Labyrinth of Shahs”, shows
what Hrant Dink represented to the BBP and its supporters. One of the programme
advisors appearing on the programme as a witness to the Maraş massacre (1978, over
100 people were killed), Ökkeş Şendiller, is a founder and member of the BBP. He
made untruthful and criminal statements, insulting Hrant Dink and, with the
party’s racist views, made Armenians a public target yet again. The BBP, with
its openly racist and xenophobic ideology, needs to be watched carefully.
As long as
politics, language and culture are not cleansed of this racist hatred and
violent discourses, and as long as the propagators of such discourses do not
face sanctions, there is no guarantee against more such murders being carried
*The following question still
remains unanswered: Why, despite the findings of the reports of the
Parliamentary Human Rights Committee and the Prime Ministerial Review
Committee, have those security units who neglected to act on the grave and
imminent threat that Hrant Dink was under and did not provide security not been
put on trial?
point it has become clear that MIT (secret service), gendarmerie and police did
not fulfill their responsibilities, did not cooperate and coordinate, kept
information and intelligence from each other, and started to accuse each other
in order to shift blame. Although these three organisations are clashing, they
are surprisingly united on two issues:
knowing that Hrant Dink would be killed, they were decisive not to do anything
to protect him.
determined to treat Hrant Dink’s murder suspect(s) as heroes.
pointed out above, investigations carried out in this way will not solve the
murder. It is clear, once again, that the time before and after the murder have
to be investigated together, and that court cases have to be merged.
to information emerging during the trial, Yasin Hayal (involved in planning in
the murder), his brother Osman Hayal (who is strongly suspected of being at the
crime scene during the murder) and Hrant Dink were all under police
surveillance. Similarly, murdered priest Andrea Santoro (killed in Trabzon in 2006) and the three men killed in Malatya in 2007 were all
under police surveillance at the time of their murders. It is highly though
provoking that the state is able to let people under surveillance be killed,
and that the murder suspects, also under surveillance, are not pursued.
state wants to rid itself of responsibility of this murder, it must at least
prosecute those in its institutions who have found to be responsible. The
justice system must treat all the court cases and investigations as a whole.