Five former gendarmerie intelligence officers have been arrested while there others were freed on probation as part of the probe into the 2007 assassination of Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The arrested suspects, all of whom were on duty in the northern province of Trabzon at the time of Dink’s murder, are also facing charges of attempting to abolish the constitutional order and membership of an armed terrorist organization, as the Istanbul Peace Court stated Volkan Şahin, Şeref Ateş, Okan Şimşek, Hüseyin Yılmaz and Gazi Günay had contact with the prime suspect in Dink’s killing and some had been spotted around Dink’s home and office some four months before the incident, despite the fact none of them had any documents showing they had been assigned to a post in the area.
In its arrest decision, the court also said that the suspects, along with others, acted with common ideas and despite knowing that the crime was going to be committed, acted to serve the murder in line with the aims of the organization which was to seize the duties and cadres of the Istanbul Police Department’s Intelligence Chief Bureau.
The arrests brought the number of gendarmerie officers arrested as part of the probe to nine. Previously, Specialized Sgt. Abdullah Dinç, former Specialized Gendarme Yusuf Bozca, former Trabzon Gendarmerie Intelligence Chief Bureau Officer Ergün Yorulmaz and former Sgt. Emre Cingöz had been arrested.
With the recent arrests of gendarmerie and security officers in the probe, prosecutors also brought charges against the suspects related to the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), as the prosecutor of the probe, Gökalp Kürkçü, said in one of his arrest demand letters that it would be “far from a legal definition” to identify the acts of the suspects as only membership or leadership of an armed terrorist organization and participation in deliberate murder at the point reached in the wake of the failed July 15 coup attempt, and that the Dink murder was the “first bullet fired” in the process which led to this attempt.
Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos in central Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.
Ogün Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.
But 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 Turkey’s 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.