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Decision on 17 January?

Işıl CİNMEN
BİA News Center

The trial related to the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was continued before the Beşiktaş (Istanbul) 14th High Criminal Court on Tuesday (10 January). Dink was gunned down on 19 January 2007 in front of his office at the Armenian Agos newspaper in Şişli (Istanbul).

The next hearing is scheduled for 17 January.

Court President Rüstem Eryılmaz announced, “All defence lawyers should be present at the 17 January hearing. I want to give a decision”.

12.15

Prime suspect Yasin Hayal requested to speak while the lawyers were holding their final speeches. He claimed to have been attacked and threatened by prison guards.

“While the press is here I want the whole world to know that the Turkish state is trying to eliminate me. (…) Please note down this date, I am starting a revolt”. Hayal stated and handed a piece of paper to the judge.

He explained, “I do not want the court to read this paper, it is confidential. But I am starting a revolt against the Turkish state until these conditions will have been fulfilled. The Turkish state benefited from my poverty and my inexperience. And now they are trying to eliminate me”.

13.00

The plaintiff lawyers at the hearing emphasized that the Trabzon Gendarmerie, the Trabzon Police, the Istanbul Police and the General Presidency of the Intelligence Department handled the murder with negligence and that they were responsible for the crime of intentional homicide.

Fethiye Çetin, joint attorney of the Dink family, asked Hayal, “Who is threatening you? What do they say? You say the Turkish state used you. Who used you? Give us a name eventually”.

The suspect replied, “Everybody who was mentioned in your final speech used me, from Erhan Tuncel to Ramazan Akyürek. Now they are threatening me; my life is under threat. I would be able to identify the guards if you made an identity parade”.

Çetin wondered what made Hayal change his attitude and he responded, “We have been here together for five years. You know that I am respectful and I usually speak little. But at the time I was a 25-year-old very destitute child. They gave me any kind of help. Food, clothes, money… I got all this from Erhan Tuncel. Back then Tuncel was the head of the [Islamic Turkish-nationalist] Alperen Ocakları in Trabzon. I felt great respect for him, I was loyal to them. That is why I had none of them interrogated”.

Lawyer Bahri Belen questioned, “Engin Yılmaz said that ‘Hayal, Tuncel and Samast met with people who had come from Istanbul. It was decided at that meeting that Samast was going to be the triggerman’ he said. Who was at that meeting?”

The lawyers addressed Hayal to say what he knew in order to protect himself.

Hayal answered, “I went there on invitation of Erhan Tuncel. I met a number of people but I do not know their names. Ask Tuncel”.

Erhan Tuncel’s lawyer requested to speak and asked, “Everybody puts the blame on Erhan Tuncel again. But did Yasin Hayal not know that Tuncel was in fact talking to these people as a member of the intelligence?”

13:30

The joint attorneys of the Dink family submitted a petition to court regarding the records obtained from the Telecommunication Communication Presidency (TİB). The attorneys noted that five people who were present at the scene of crime and who had connections to the defendants could be easily identified from the footage. Moreover, 14 people who were not at the scene of incident but were phoned from there again had connections with the defendants and suspects.

“It was determined that some conversations were made via certain phone numbers on the day and time of the offence and at the scene of incident. These phone numbers were used very frequently and have a direct connection to defendants Mustafa Öztürk and Salih Hacisalihoğlu.

15.20

The joint attorneys of the Dink family finished their final speeches and prosecutor Hikmet Usta who had presented his final plea on 19.09.2011 was asked if he wanted to make any changes in his final opinion.

Usta criticized the Dink lawyers for saying that “the time before and after the murder should be considered as a whole”. In his opinion, it was not correct to see the Dink murder in the context of the killing of Priest Andrea Santoro and the killing of three people at the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya and to evaluate these incidents over all as an action done by the state.

“Because this would declare the state a murderer, this would be an oddity”, Usta said and reiterated his opinion that a cell of the Ergenekon Terrorist Organization active in Trabzon committed the murder of journalist Dink.

The prosecutor announced that he was not going to change his final plea. “Hrant is not a political dissident, he is just a journalist. It is actually not important in this murder if he was Armenian or not. Terror does not make ethnic distinctions, terror is terror. The state does not want terror, just the terrorists want it. The involved parties are not able to see the whole picture. In their final speeches they examined irrelevant issues such as if the police behaved with negligence” Usta remarked.

Lawyer Erdoğan Soruluk, legal advisor of defendant Erhan Tuncel, claimed that organizations with the aim to commit crimes were established within the state. Ergenekon, according to Soruluk, tried to fray out the Justice and Development Party (AKP) by creating chaos in the country.

In his opinion, Priest Santoro and the three employees of the Zirve Publishing House were killed for that reason. Soruluk reminded that the European Union (EU) held the Turkish government responsible for these murders and intended to withdraw subsidies in this context. The Council of State had claimed that the murders were committed in order to mobilize the secular section of society and to establish a public opinion in opposition to the government, the lawyer said.

He continued, “The Dink murder was also one element connected to Ergenekon. As a member of the intelligence Tuncel informed the official authorities about Hayal and about everything related to the murder. He could have followed Hayal and prevent the murder. Tuncel fulfilled his duty and did not take any precautions. Therefore, this is a murder that requires the investigation into connections that reach inside the state. But the court did not investigate this until now”.

16.00

Lawyer Sorukly emphasized the importance of the footage provided by TİB and its investigation.

He claimed that the Dink murder was related to Ergenekon but that Erhan Tuncel could not be seen as a member of the Ergenekon terrorist organization since he fulfilled his duty. Related to Yasin Hayal’s statement made in the morning, Soruklu said, “He blames Erhan Tuncel all the time. When he is asked to give names he says ‘from Erhan Tuncel to Ramazan Akyürek’. Ramazan Akyürek was the person who introduced Tuncel to the police. Also Akyürek fulfilled his duty; we cannot blame him”.

Soruklu went on, “There are state officers who abuse their position but it is wrong to accuse the institutions because of these people. Yasin Hayal gave a message and we have to give attention to this message. He constantly tries to relate the incident to the [nationalist] Great Union Party (BBP). This is a diversion (…)”.

Lawyer Soruklu submitted his 17-page defence speech to court and requested Tuncel’s acquittal.

Eda Salman, lawyer of defendants Yasin Hayal and Osman Hayal, rejected allegations related to a criminal organization. She expounded, “The prosecutor connects the trial to Ergenekon in his indictment but he does not merge the trials. If you continue to relate this trial to Ergenekon, the court should keep in mind that that trial is heard somewhere else. If he mentions a different organization that organization has to be defined once more”.

After that, the lawyer of un-detained defendant Mustafa Öztürk delivered his speech of defence. (IC/NV/ÇT/VK)