Engin Dinç, the head of the National Police Department’s Intelligence Unit who led the Trabzon Intelligence Unit at the time of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, said in recent testimony to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office that the intelligence on Dink’s murder was passed to the İstanbul Police Department in February 2006.
Today’s Zaman learned that Dinç, who is a key suspect in the murder trial of Dink, gave his testimony before the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office secretly and revealed that they received the intelligence for a probable assassination of Dink in Trabzon, which was sent to the İstanbul police in a letter numbered 027248 on Feb. 17, 2006. “I also phoned the chief of the Intelligence Unit of the İstanbul Police Department about the intelligence,” Dinç said in his testimony.
However, former İstanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah and former İstanbul Police Department Intelligence Unit Chief Ahmet İlhan Güler stated in their testimonies before the court during the trial in December 2014 that they had not received any intelligence about Dink’s assassination before the murder in 2007.
Three police officers — Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu and Muhittin Zenit — who worked under Dinç in the Intelligence Unit of the Trabzon Police Department were arrested in January as part of an expanded probe into Dink’s murder. All three police officers had said in their testimonies that Dinç was the highest authority at the Trabzon Police Department’s Intelligence Unit, adding that the intelligence reports about Dink had been prepared by Dinç.
Former Trabzon Police Chief Reşat Altay, summoned by Prosecutor Yusuf Hakkı Doğan to testify in Dink’s murder trial in December 2014, named Dinç during his testimony. According to media reports, Altay said Dinç had never presented intelligence reports which warned that a possible attack would target Dink, before the reports were sent to the National Police Department. Altay reportedly said, “Apart from the reports, I also do not remember Dinç ever briefing me with any intelligence that Yasin Hayal was preparing to attack Dink.”
Despite a collection of testimonies pointing the finger at Dinç and requests from the lawyers of the family of murdered journalist Dink, the prosecutor conducting the ongoing murder probe decided not to summon Dinç to testify. He was also promoted and has been the chief of the National Police Department’s Intelligence Unit since April 2013.
Dink was shot and killed by an ultranationalist teenager in 2007. The hitman, Ogün Samast, and 18 others were brought to trial. Since then, the lawyers for the Dink family and the co-plaintiffs in the case have presented evidence indicating that Samast did not act alone. Another suspect, Yasin Hayal, was given life in prison for inciting Samast to commit murder.
The retrial started in September 2014, when the İstanbul 5th High Criminal Court complied with a ruling from the Supreme Court of Appeals in May 2013 overturning a lower court’s ruling that acquitted the suspects in the Dink murder case of charges of forming a terrorist organization. This decision paved the way for the trial of public officials on charges of voluntary manslaughter.
Referring to Erhan Tuncel, an informant and a key suspect who is accused of initiating efforts to have Dink murdered, Dinç said he met Tuncel in his office in Trabzon and asked him to convince Hayal to give up the idea of the assassination.
Separate investigations related to Dink’s murder, including investigations in İstanbul and Trabzon, had previously not been merged in spite of the demands of the Dink family’s lawyers. The investigations were finally combined toward the end of last year.
As part of the same investigation, two former heads of the National Police Department’s Intelligence Unit — Sabri Uzun and Ramazan Akyürek — and a former police chief, Ali Fuat Yılmazer, have testified as suspects.