DDK report's censored pages call for probe of state officials in Dink case
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was shot dead on Jan. 19, 2007 by the ultranationalist Ogün Samast outside the offices of his newspaper in İstanbul in broad daylight. (Photo: Today's Zaman)
The undisclosed sections of a report prepared by the State Audit Institution (DDK) regarding the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink openly accuse police and intelligence officials of negligence in the murder and call for the investigation of certain individuals, the Habertürk daily reported on Friday.
The presidential watchdog announced its report earlier this week on the Office of the President's website. The report said mistakes were made in the investigation of public officials who were suspected of having acted negligently in preventing the murder, adding that a sequence of negligent acts by public officials was not examined as a whole and that no investigation was launched separately into different state institutions.
However, six pages of the long-expected report were censored, reportedly due to state secrecy concerns, arousing curiosity among the public over what information they contained. Habertürk, claiming to have obtained the full report, said on Friday that the censored sections level serious and explicit accusations against police and gendarmerie officers and the İstanbul Governor's Office.
The six pages also reportedly say there is sufficient evidence to file charges of negligence against certain officials in the İstanbul and Trabzon police departments. The report adds that prosecutors failed to file charges against members of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) who reportedly “warned” Dink to be careful when writing his articles prior to his assassination in 2007.
According to Dink's own account published in Agos, of which he was editor-in-chief, on Jan. 12, 2007, MİT Marmara Regional Deputy Director Özel Yılmaz and another agent summoned Dink to the İstanbul Governor's Office and warned him, telling him to “be careful” about what he wrote. The meeting took place on Feb. 4, 2004, shortly after Dink wrote an article asserting that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's daughter, Sabiha Gökçen, was of Armenian descent.
After Dink's assassination, one of the MİT agents who had spoken with him at the governor's office that day was revealed to be Yılmaz, who is currently a suspect in the investigation into Ergenekon -- a clandestine gang charged with plotting to overthrow the government -- which prosecutors say might also be responsible for Dink's murder. Furthermore, in response to a query about the meeting from the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court, MİT said the organization was aware of the “meeting” with Dink and its agents at the time.
Habertürk also reported that the full DDK report underlines that the Trabzon Police Department sent a notice to the İstanbul Police Department on Feb. 17, 2006, warning them about an assassination plot against Dink based on intelligence received from Erhan Tuncel -- a police informant in Trabzon. The report also said this information was not shared with the Trabzon Gendarmerie Command, although the plot concerned individuals in the town of Pelitli, which fell under the gendarmerie command's jurisdiction. Despite this information no action was taken to prevent the murder, and a fake report was prepared following Dink's assassination, the report said.
The DDK also reportedly discovered that information about a possible assassination plot against Dink was received by the Trabzon Gendarmerie Command from other sources. Although there was clear intelligence that those plotting to kill Dink were obtaining arms, the gendarmerie did not give any importance to this information and did not share it with any judicial body, the report puts forth.
Dink, the late editor-in-chief of Agos, was shot dead by an ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of his newspaper in broad daylight in İstanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.
Gül ordered the DDK to investigate the Dink murder last year, following growing calls from the public and a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling that found Turkey guilty of failing to protect Dink's right to life and of carrying out a thorough investigation into the officers who failed to take the necessary measures in light of early warnings and tips about the plot to kill Dink. The investigation that followed Dink's death revealed that police had been tipped off about plans to murder the journalist; however, police failed to intervene.
Deputy PM: Court's reasoned decision adds to ‘darkness' surrounding Dink case
In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ commented on the reasoned decision announced by an İstanbul court on Thursday on the killing of Dink. The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court said in its 216-page-long reasoned decision, distributed to lawyers involved in the case on Thursday, that the court could not establish that the journalist was killed by an organized criminal network.
Bozdağ said by acknowledging that there is wider involvement in the murder but failing to prove it, the court added more to the “darkness” of the case. “I am not sure whether it is logical for the court to accept the involvement of an organization in the murder but to say that it cannot see it. The reasoned decision has been yet another dark curtain. … The decision failed to light a candle to shed light in this darkness,” he said.
In what many said was a shocking and frustrating ruling in the five-year-long trial of the Dink case, the İstanbul court last month cleared all suspects of charges of membership in a criminal organization, angering lawyers and many others who say the trial failed to clarify alleged connections between the suspects and state officials. The court convicted Yasin Hayal, a major suspect in the killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Dink, of instigating a murder and sentenced him to life in prison. Another suspected instigator, Tuncel, was acquitted by the court.