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A guide for understanding the Dink case

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Uygar Gültekin & Gözde Kazaz
AGOS

ACTORS

Officials from Trabzon General Directorate of Security

During the process leading to the murder of Hrant Dink, the hitman and and his companions were living in Pelitli district of Trabzon. The initial information in the case files reveals that the hitman and and his companions made all the preparations for the murder in Trabzon. According to intelligence reports included in the case files, the group that initiated the murder of Dink had been monitored by Trabzon Intelligence Branch; furthermore, the intelligence branch had concrete information concerning the plans for murder since 2006. The police officers working in Trabzon General Directorate of Security had the responsibility to launch an operation against the organization planning for murder, but they didn’t do it.

Yasin Hayal: He stood trial as part of the first case after the murder. Tried as the instigator, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Hayal, a key actor in the murder of Dink, carried out an attack against a catholic priest in Trabzon and bombed McDonald’s before the murder. He stayed in prison for 11 months because of the bombing. He was released in 2006 and Trabzon Intelligence Branch started to follow him starting from the moment he was released. Some reports had been issued stating that he had relations with jihadist circles. On October 19, 2005, intelligence reports had this information: “Hayal carries a grudge against Armenians and plans for carrying out an action against Armenians in Istanbul.” Another report dated January 2006 included the information that Hayal was contacting to some people for finding TNT. An intelligence report written on February 15, 2006 stated that “Yasin Hayal wants to go to Istanbul for killing Hrant Dink.” This means that the plans for murder was known at least 11 months before the murder.

Erhan Tuncel: He was a student Karadeniz Technical University and the person who provided information about Yasin Hayal and his group. He was made a police informant (assisting intelligence personnel) after McDonald’s bombing. During the trials, it had been discussed whether the way he was made an informant was illegal or not. It is claimed that Tuncel gave the photos of Dink to Yasin Hayal, while he informed the police about the murder plans. Police officers working in Trabzon Intelligence Branch stated that they dismissed Tuncel before the murder on the grounds that he was unreliable and also working for gendarmerie, but Tuncel wasn’t informed about the dismissal. According to the information included in the case file, Tuncel called the Intelligence Branch for 34 times after he was dismissed. In this trials, he claimed that he wanted to provide information about the murder, but they didn’t return his calls. During the trials where police officers from Trabzon Intelligence Branch were questioned, it couldn’t have been revealed whom Tuncel talk. Police officers claimed that they hadn’t talked to him. He was acquitted and released after the court decided that “there is no organization” on January 17, 2012. The Supreme Court reversed this decision and issued a warrant against Tuncel. Arrested again on October 24, 2013, Tuncel was released again on March 7, 2014 with a law amendment that reduces the period of pre-trial arrest to 5 years. Currently, he is tried without being arrested and made contradictory statements in his testimonies to the prosecutor and court. When Ergenekon investigation was started, he claimed that the murder of Dink was planned by Ergenekon; after the coup attempt on July 15, he started to claim that the murder was committed by Fethullah Gülen organization.

Ramazan Akyürek: He was the Trabzon Police Chief, when the information concerning Hayal’s plans for murder were revealed. He signed the intelligence reports on Yasin Hayal, including the one informing that Dink will be murdered. He was promoted before the murder and assigned as the chief of Security General Directorate Intelligence Branch; during his time in the office, reports concerning the murder kept coming. In his interrogation, he said that they didn’t regard sending a notice to the governor’s office or any other institution as necessary. In 2009, he was promoted again and assigned as the head of the inspection board. Then, he was assigned as the head of Directorate for Strategy Development. In 2014, he testified as a suspect in Dink case. On February 2015, he was arrested. Aggravated life imprisonment is demanded for him on the charge of premeditated murder.

Engin Dinç: He was the chief of Trabzon Intelligence Branch, when the information concerning Dink murder started to come. He also signed the intelligence reports informing that Yasin Hayal will kill Hrant Dink. It is claimed that Dinç sent the report that read “Yasin Hayal will kill Hrant Dink at all costs” to General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch without making any change, but he sent the same report to Istanbul Intelligence Branch after changing it to “an impactful action.” He denies these claims. Dinç, while he was the chief of Trabzon Intelligence Branch, saw Erhan Tuncel in his office, which is a violation of police procedures. Tuncel claims that he gave the name of the hitman during this meeting. Dink denies this claim as well. Soon after that meeting, Tuncel was dismissed and there was no personnel left who can provide information concerning the murder. At the time of murder, Dinç was working in Afyon Intelligence Branch. After the murder, he was promoted and assigned as the chief of Security General Directorate Intelligence Branch. He was holding this office, while Dink case was still in process. He is currently not under arrest and prison sentence up to 22 years is demanded for him on the charge of “willful murder by negligence”.

Reşat Altay: Shortly before the murder, he was assigned as Trabzon Provincial Police Chief to replace Ramazan Akyürek. Engin Dinç claims that he informed Altay about the plans for murder. Denying this claim, Altay says that he didn’t know about the plans. He signed the notice for dismissing Erhan Tuncel, but he claims that he didn’t know Tuncel was the informant providing information on the murder. He is currently not under arrest and prison sentence up to 29 years is demanded for him.

Faruk Sarı: The chief of Trabzon Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch who was assigned to the office by the request of Reşat Altay, who considered Sarı as a “reliable man” He was assigned to the office after Engin Dinç. He claimed that he didn’t know about the plans for murder. Aggravated life imprisonment is demanded for him on the charge of premeditated murder.

Muhittin Zenit: A police officer from Trabzon Intelligence Branch who was meeting with Erhan Tuncel. His phone call to Tuncel right after the murder was leaked. Receiving all the information on the murder, Zenit also issued the report informing that Dink will be murdered. He claimed that he wrote “Dink will be killed at all costs”, but Dinç had changed it. He was assigned to Bayburt 7 months before the murder. He was arrested as part of Dink case. He was released in the trial of public officials. Aggravated life imprisonment is demanded for him on the charge of premeditated murder.

Ercan Demir, Özkan Mumcu, Mehmet Ayhan, Mehmet Uçar, Hasan Durmuşoğlu, Onur Karakaya: Police officers who were working in Trabzon Intelligence Branch before the murder of Dink. Working in the branch in different times, these officers participated in the meetings with Erhan Tuncel. They were obliged to collect information on the murder and launch an operation against the organization. Ercan Demir was assigned to Cizre as the police chief after the murder. He was arrested on January 2015, while he was still in office. He was released on June 2016, after he presented his defence to the court. Özkan Mumcu also arrested on January 2015. He was released on April 2016. These police officers accused Engin Dinç during the trials, who was their chief. They also claimed that Engin Dinç was the one who had the authority to launch an operation against Hayal. Hasan Durmuşoğlu, deputy chief of Trabzon Intelligence Branch, claimed that he hadn’t heard about Dink before the murder. Aggravated life imprisonment is demanded for them on the charge of premeditated murder.

Officials from Istanbul General Directorate of Security

Hrant Dink had been targeted and attacked in Istanbul during the process that led to the murder. It was revealed that Istanbul General Directorate of Security had been following Dink since 1997.

On February 17, 2006, Trabzon Intelligence sent a report to Istanbul Intelligence Branch informing that Yasin Hayal will kill Hrant Dink.

Muammer Güler: He was the Governor of Istanbul before and during the murder. Afterwards, he was promoted to Public Security Bureau. In 2011, he was elected to the parliament and in 2013, he became the minister of interior. He has always been excluded from the investigation on Dink murder. All requests for launching an investigation against him were refused. Recently, an application to the ministry of interior was made for launching an investigation concerning his term as the governor. Ministry of Interior decided not to consider this request. Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office applied to the Council of State for objecting this decision.

Celalettin Cerrah: He was the Istanbul Police Chief before and during the murder. Afterwards, he was promoted to Osmaniye Governor’s Office. Being on duty during all developments in Istanbul concerning Dink, he was still the police chief when the intelligence report informing about the plans for murder was received. In this statement to the court, he said he didn’t have to see the report that was sent to Istanbul Intelligence Branch. He stated that Hrant Dink should have asked for protection. During the cross examination in the court, he claimed that his personnel said that there wasn’t anything extraordinary during the trials of Dink. Ramazan Akyürek, who was the chief of General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch at the time of murder, claimed that Cerrah asked him to destroy the document that was sent to Istanbul. Cerrah denied this claim. 6 months to 2 years of prison sentence is demanded for him on the charge of professional misconduct.

Ahmet İlhan Güler: He was the chief of Istanbul Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch at the time of murder. He was dismissed by Ramazan Akyürek after the murder. When the intelligence report informing about the plans for murder was sent to Istanbul, he was still on duty. In his statement to the court, he claimed that the report in question included the demand of investigating Osman Hayal and they did the necessary. Güler, like other officers from Istanbul Directorate of Security, claims that “an impactful action” doesn’t mean murder. Defining the protests against Dink as “democratic demonstrations”, Güler claimed that they hadn’t received any information on the threats against Dink. 15 years and 6 months to 22 years of prison sentence is demanded for him on the charges of “willful murder by negligence” and “professional misconduct”.

Officials from General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch

General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch is one of the major institutions in Turkey in charge of collecting information. Under the auspices of General Directorate of Security, this branch is the center that coordinates the intelligence branches all over Turkey. It is also the center where all the intelligence reports issued by provincial intelligence branches are brought together. Information gained through technical and physical surveillance and information provided by assisting intelligence personnel are brought together here. The reports informing that Yasin Hayal and his friends were planning to kill Dink, Yasin Hayal was carrying grudge against Armenians and he was planning to carry out an attack in Istanbul were recorded by Trabzon Intelligence Branch. Until Dink’s death, at least 12 reports had been issued. All the reports issued by Trabzon Branch can been seen by General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch.

In the archives, there are many information about the panels, conferences and other events to which Dink had attended in addition to the reports issued by Trabzon Branch.

During the legal process, it was revealed that there is a program used by all intelligence branches, which is called “Intelligence Evaluation Project” (İDP). Chiefs and personnel of intelligence branches didn’t do anything, though they had all the information about Dink.

Sabri Uzun: He was the chief of General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch between June 2003 and March 2006. He was dismissed before the murder. The report informing that Yasin Hayal will kill Hrant Dink at all costs were sent to the intelligence branch during Uzun’s term. In his defence in court, he claimed that he hadn’t been informed about that report, which was received by the branch while he was away. Uzun claimed that he didn’t know any of the threats against Dink. He is not under arrest and 6 months to 2 years prison sentence is demanded for him on the charge of “professional misconduct”.

Ramazan Akyürek: He worked as the chief of General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch after Sabri Uzun. After he was assigned as the chief, he signed the dismissal of Erhan Tuncel. It is stated that the process of dismissal was faster than usual. In this statement to the court, he claimed that he hadn’t been informed about the plans for murder during his time in office. He also claimed that he went to Istanbul right after the murder and Cerrah asked him to destroy some documents. He stated that he informed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Minister of Interior Abdülkadir Aksu, Minister of Justice Cemil Çiçek, Undersecretary Şahabettin Harput about Cerrah’s request.

Ali Fuat Yılmazer:
In the administrative chart of General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch and provincial intelligence branches, there are different offices denoted by codes like A, B, C. As the eputy chief General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch, Yılmazer was in charge of Office C, which was responsible for right-wing, nationalist and radical religious groups. Threats against Dink, Yasin Hayal and his companions’ plan for murder and the ones organizing protests against Dink fall within this office’s area of responsibility. Yılmazer, who was the head of this office before the murder, was later assigned as the chief of Istanbul Intelligence Branch after Ahmet İlhan Güler. Yılmazer had the responsibility to protect Dink and launch an operation against the group planning to murder as the head of the office collecting all the information. However, he claims that General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch is not responsible for protection or launching operations. He is currently arrested and aggravated life imprisonment is demanded for him on the charge of premeditated murder.

Tamer Bülent Demirel, Osman Gülbel, Ali Poyraz, Hamdi Egbatan: Officers from General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch. Tamer Bülent Demirel is the one who saw the report informing that Hayal will kill Dink. In his defence, he stated that he saw the report, ordered to inform Istanbul and they saw that the document was sent to Istanbul. Demirel claimed that they didn’t have the responsibility for protecting the targeted person. Osman Gülbel also saw the report in question. Gülbel said that he saw the report sent to Istanbul and recorded to the system, he initialed the report and sent it to the related authorities. Ali Poyraz claimed that he hadn’t heard about Dink until the murder. Hamdi Egbatan claimed that he hadn’t worked in the branch before or during the murder. They are arrested as part of the investigation against Fethullah Gülen movement and tried on the charges of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization, premeditated murder and professional misconduct”.

Yunus Yazar, Coşkun Çakar, Yılmaz Angın, Mehmet Akif Yılmaz, Serkan Şahan, Ömer Faruk Kartın: Officers from General Directorate of Security Intelligence Branch. They have lawsuits against them as part of the investigation against Fethullah Gülen movement. Fugitive suspects have also arrest warrants as part of Dink case. They are tried on the charges of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization and professional misconduct”.

Ministry of Interior Civil Inspectors

Şükrü Yıldız: Chief Civil Inspector who carried out the enquiry of public officials after the murder. It is claimed that he reported that the personnel of Istanbul Directorate of Security is responsible for the murder on purpose. Claiming that the personnel of Istanbul Directorate of Security forged documents, Yıldız said that he hadn’t seen the report informing that Yasin Hayal will kill Dink during his examinations in Trabzon Intelligence Branch. On the other hand, the personnel of Trabzon Directorate of Security claimed that they tried to give documents to Yıldız, but he didn’t accept them. Yıldız said that he couldn’t have looked at those documents, because the prosecutor’s office had already launched a confidential investigation. Şükrü Yıldız was arrested while he was working as the deputy governor of Mersin and is tried on the charge of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization”. He is arrested as part of the investigation against Fethullah Gülen movement.

Mehmet Ali Özkılınç: Chief Civil Inspector who carried out the enquiry on public officials after the murder. He said that he carried out examinations concerning the case of gendarmerie and they observed a strong resistance in the gendarmerie during his examination. He claimed that he hadn’t hidden any document. He was arrested part of the investigation against Fethullah Gülen movement while he was working as the deputy governor of Ordu. Up to 15 years prison sentence is demanded for him and he is tried on the charge of “willful assistance to the organization.”