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ANKARA: Dink Retrial Starts With Decision To Arrest Defendant Erhan

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  • ANKARA: Dink Retrial Starts With Decision To Arrest Defendant Erhan


    Today's Zaman, Turkey
    Sept 17 2013

    17 September 2013 /YONCA POYRAZ DO─~^AN, ─░STANBUL

    A local court has ordered the arrest of Erhan Tuncel -- previously
    acquitted of all charges related to the 2007 killing of Hrant Dink,
    the late editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos -- in
    the retrial of the Dink murder case amidst repeated chants calling for
    justice by Hrant's Friends outside the biggest courthouse in ─░stanbul
    on Tuesday and a decision by Dink's family not to take part anymore
    in the "games played by state mechanisms."

    The ─░stanbul 14th High Criminal Court began a review of the trial
    after the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned in May the ─░stanbul
    court's ruling of Jan. 17, 2012, in which it dismissed the involvement
    of an organized criminal network in the murder.

    Tuncel, who worked as an informant for the Trabzon Police Department,
    was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the 2004 bombing
    of a McDonald's restaurant in the Black Sea town of Trabzon but
    was acquitted of all charges regarding the Dink murder, including
    prosecutors' claims in the first trial that he was the one who ordered
    Yasin Hayal, the man who was given a life sentence for soliciting
    Dink's shooter, to murder him.

    Hakan Bak─▒rc─▒oglu, one of the lawyers representing the Dink family
    in the case, said that the Supreme Court of Appeals' 9th Criminal
    Chamber had indicated in its May decision that Tuncel may have played
    a crucial role in the murder of Dink, so he was expected at the court
    as a defendant on Tuesday.

    "We expected the ─░stanbul court to issue this arrest warrant because
    of the high court's decision," he told Today's Zaman.

    Tuncel's lawyer, Erdogan Soruklu, presented a doctor's report to the
    court Tuncel was not able to appear due to an illness, but the lawyer
    said Tuncel will be present at the next hearing.

    Soruklu said that the high court's overturning of the local court's
    decision was incorrect and given under pressure; therefore, it was
    against the citizenship and human rights of Tuncel.

    "Tuncel was stigmatized as 'big brother' in public, and the appeals
    process was influenced," he said, insisting that Tuncel is not guilty
    of the crime as the local court first ruled for his acquittal.

    The only defendants present at the first hearing were Hayal and
    Salih Hac─▒salihoglu.

    Asked by Judge Mustafa Ba┼~_er to present his views regarding the
    high court's decision, Hayal said he is not guilty of killing Dink
    but Tuncel is. Hayal referred to written confessions from a former
    gendarmerie intelligence officer, known as M.A., previously presented
    to the court in which the officer admits he was going to kill Dink
    with Tuncel.

    "I have not established or run a criminal organization. I don't
    know why I am being linked to an alleged criminal organization,"
    Hayal told the court.

    Hayal and Tuncel, along with all other defendants, were cleared
    of charges of membership in a terrorist organization in the local
    court's ruling.

    Dink was shot and killed in broad daylight on Jan. 19, 2007, by an
    ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of his newspaper in
    ─░stanbul. Evidence discovered since then has led to claims that the
    murder was linked to the "deep state," a term used in reference to
    a shady group of military and civilian bureaucrats believed to have
    links to criminal elements.

    Bahri Belen, one of the lawyers for the Dink family, spoke in court
    in reference to the organized, deep-state criminal network, but Judge
    Ba┼~_er warned him, saying that the high court limited the scope of
    the involvement of a criminal network to only a few people.

    The lawyers representing the Dink family fear the new trial process
    will stay within these limits drawn by the high court.

    Fethiye Cetin, the chief lawyer on the case, said last week at a
    press conference that the new process is most likely to put the case
    at a worse standpoint than before because the initial trial had been
    launched on the premise of a terrorist organization, but the high
    court decision says it is an armed organization formed to commit a
    specific crime.

    Belen emphasized this point in court, indicating that the high court's
    decision has been wrongly interpreted as a positive turning point
    for their case.

    "We don't think that this criminal network is a small one, like the
    high court does," he said. "The Supreme Court of Appeals is wrong,
    but it is still important that it overturned the ruling of the
    local court."

    Cetin explained that according to the decision of the high court,
    the criminal organization involved was established in 2004 by Hayal
    with political motivations and consisted of only a few other people,
    including Tuncel, who were ultranationalists angry with Dink for
    "insulting Turkishness," as he had been charged with, so they wanted
    to punish him.

    She also noted that Dink was not even sentenced in 2004 for that
    crime attributed to him.

    Earlier this month, Cetin published a book titled "Utanc Duyuyorum:
    Hrant Dink Cinayetinin Yarg─▒s─▒" ("I Feel Ashamed: The Judgment of
    the Hrant Dink Murder"), explaining that the high court had defined
    the motivations of the organization as being "political" rather than
    "terrorist" in its verdict that led to the review of the case.

    Dink's lawyers had submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of
    Appeals, arguing that the lower court's ruling violated the Turkish
    Penal Code (TCK) by acknowledging the existence of a criminal
    organization but declining to investigate it and that the court
    ignored the evidence of the involvement of a terrorist organization.

    Meanwhile, a written statement sent to press by the Dink family on
    Tuesday said the family will no longer attend the hearings to avoid
    being part of the "games played by state mechanisms."

    Cetin read some parts of that statement at the hearing, indicating
    that it should be in the court records because the family's decision
    is directly related to the review of the case.

    "I have spoken with my clients; they are the late Hrant Dink's family
    and close friends. They do not want to come to hearings anymore because
    they do not want to watch this game anymore. They also said that this
    case does not belong only to their family but to others who would like
    to see a transparent state and peace, so for that reason they would
    like us, the lawyers, to follow the case closely on their behalf,"
    she said.

    The family's statement made headlines today in some Turkish newspapers
    because some members of the Dink family regularly attended the hearings
    of the first trial and their decision represents a turning point that
    they have lost faith in the justice system.

    Part of the statement by the Dink family, dated Sept. 16, reads: "In
    order not to become dirtier, we will not step into those courthouses
    where lies are so easily said, force so easily used, and rightfulness,
    truth, rights and justice so easily stepped on. ... Since the day
    Hrant Dink was slain on Jan. 19, 2007, the system in Turkey, with
    its judiciary, police, military, civilian bureaucracy and political
    institutions, have made fun of us. ... On the other hand, opposition
    parties, with their attitude toward Article 301 and support for
    ultranationalist feelings and breeding hitmen, were the main actors
    in the climate of murder. ... We will be where we are and where are
    supposed be: on the side of those who were killed by the sticks of
    the state."

    The next hearing of the case will be on Dec. 3.