Dink family lawyer Hakan Karadağ found dead in his apartment

Dink family lawyer Hakan Karadağ found dead in his apartment

Hakan Karadağ

June 05, 2010, Saturday/ 16:42:00
A lawyer for the co-plaintiff in the trial over Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder was found dead in his İstanbul apartment in an apparent suicide yesterday. No official report on the cause of death of Hakan Karadağ has yet been released.

Karadağ's body was taken from his house in Cihangir to the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) for an autopsy. Ogün Samast, an ultranationalist teenager and prime suspect in the Dink murder trial, had threatened Karadağ in the courtroom during one of the hearings. According to initial reports, Karadağ's girlfriend, with whom he shared the apartment, discovered the body when she walked into the apartment. Reports said she found Karadağ's body hanging from the ceiling. Police sent the body to the ATK morgue after conducting an investigation of the scene.

Relatives of Karadağ traveled to the ATK in the afternoon, and told press they were in a state of disbelief over the alleged suicide. Uncle Habip Karadağ told reporters: “I just saw him yesterday; he did not have any suicidal issues. He said he had a case that he had to attend to and left saying, ‘Hope to see you in the afternoon'.” Karadağ was the lawyer of a co-plaintiff in the Dink assassination trial.

Samast had said to Karadağ in the courtroom, “You’d better visit the prison one day,” his remark accompanied by a threatening hand gesture. Karadağ filed an official complaint with the judge to which Samast objected, saying he had no intention to threaten him and had only warned Karadağ not to insult him.

The first state official to make a statement on Karadağ’s death was Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who was notified of the news by journalists only minutes after Karadağ’s body was found. “It is a most saddening incident. The case’s relationship to Hrant Dink makes us all wonder. Sometimes such things occur when an important issue is on the agenda. Perhaps this was done ahead of the referendum with the intent of bringing such matters into the limelight or to increase concerns about terrorism. It should be viewed from all angles,” he said.

Dink was fatally shot by Samast outside the Agos weekly in 2007, but the masterminds of the assassination have still not been found. Three years after his death, Dink’s family and friends and rights organizations continue to voice anger that the mystery surrounding the the journalist’s murder has yet to be unraveled.

Lawyers representing the co-plaintiffs in the Dink trial have long alleged that the murder was the doing of Ergenekon, a clandestine gang charged with plotting to overthrow the government. Dink family lawyers have also petitioned the 14th High Criminal Court to contact the prosecutors investigating Ergenekon to request a copy of documents that describe the organization’s plots against religious minorities in Turkey. Such a document, called the Cage Operation Action Plan, was found last November during a police raid on the office of retired Maj. Levent Bektaş, a suspect in the Ergenekon investigation. This document speaks of Dink’s killing as an “operation.”

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