March 22 2008
Turkey Soldiers Admit Plot To Kill Armenian Journalist
Thursday, 20 March 2008
By BosNewsLife News Center
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (BosNewsLife)– Two Turkish soldiers told a court
Thursday, March 20, that they warned of a plot to kill ethnic
Armenian journalist Hrant Dink months before the murder happened, but
that their superiors refused to prevent the assassination. It came as
news emerged that a trial hearing against the suspected murderers of
three Christians in southeast Turkey was postponed for another month,
after clerics apparently refused to forward a request to replace a
judge accused of bias.
The two soldiers from the northeastern city of Trabzon, Okan Simsek
and Veysel Sahin, were the first members of security forces to stand
trial in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, where the murder was
Simsek and Sahin, who were charged with failing to inform officials
about the plot, said they told the head of the Trabzon ‘gendarmerie’
and their unit chief that they heard from a police informer that a
relative of his, Yasin Hayal, was planning to kill Dink. Hayal is
currently on trial as one of the murder’s masterminds.
The confessions of the two soldiers "are chilling" advocacy group
Reporters Without Borders said. "The security forces in Trabzon might
have been able to prevent Dink’s murder if they had taken action. All
those who were aware of this information and did nothing must be
This investigation is seen as a test for Ankara’s resolve to
eliminate the "deep state" — a term used to describe security forces
acting outside the law to preserve what they consider Turkey’s best
The 52-year-old Dink, whom Turkish nationalists hated for calling the
World War I massacres of Armenians, including many Christians,
genocide, was shot dead in central Istanbul on January 19, 2007,
outside the offices of Agos, the weekly newspaper he ran.
The court trying the two soldiers has summoned all 10 senior officers
who were allegedly told at a meeting of the plan to murder Dink.
A criminal court in the Istanbul suburb of Sili meanwhile reportedly
sentenced Zafer Filiz this week to three years in prison for sending
a racist and threatening email to the headquarters of Dink’s
newspaper, Agos, on 1 February 2007, 12 days after his murder.
It came as in a separate case a court postponed a trial hearing
against the seven alleged murderers of Christians Tilman Ekkehart
Geske, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yüksel who were killed on April 18, last
year in a Christian publishing house in the southeastern town of
Four of the detained suspects on trial were caught at the scene and
identified as Salih Gürler, 20, Abuzer Yildirim, 19, Cuma Özdemir,
20, and Hamit Ceker.
A fifth defendant, Emre Günaydin, allegedly jumped out of a
third-floor window in the building, but was arrested after hospital
treatment. Two other suspects are not yet in custody.
The fourth trial hearing was postponed till April 14 by a Malatya
court as it did not yet receive the plaintiff lawyers’ request to
remove the judge, accused of bias. There was also no sign of a ruling
in the case of two Turkish converts to Christianity accused of
`denigrating Islam and Turkishness."
Three soldiers were reportedly summoned last week to testify before
the Silivri Criminal Court in northwestern Turkey as witnesses for
the prosecution, but two of them failed to show up.
Defense lawyers have expressed some optimism that their clients will
be found innocent. However Turkish authorities have so far refused to
change legislation under which the Christians are charged, despite
mounting pressure from the European Union to the dreaded Article 301.