An Istanbul court on Dec. 8 ordered the release on probation of five suspects implicated in the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
During the 15th hearing of the case, in which a total of 85 defendants are being tried, the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court ordered the release of Bekir Yokuş, Ecevit Emir, Emre Cingöz, Hacı Şerif Şimşek and Şeref Ateş, all of whom were serving as intelligence officers in the Istanbul Gendarmerie at the time of Dink’s murder.
The court ordered their release predominantly on the strength of an Oct. 10 report released by the Forensic Institute, which stated that their DNA was not present at the Şişli murder scene, though time already served in prison was another factor.
The ruling imposed a travel ban on the five and ordered the continued arrest of 11 other defendants in line with the current status of the evidence.
Separately, the court also accepted a request by the Dink family lawyer to investigate whether the journalist’s phone had been previously tapped.
The court adjourned the next hearing to Jan. 29, with the case set to continue on Jan. 30, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, 2018.
Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos in central Istanbul.
Samast, then a 17-year-old unemployed high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.
However, the case escalated into scandal after it emerged that security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.