Zaman Online, Turkey
July 14 2008
Ã?etin: Dink case offers chance to solve Ergenekon puzzle
Fethiye Ã?etin, a lawyer representing the family of
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated by a
young man under the influence of ultranationalism, has said she will
be thoroughly reviewing the indictment against the Ergenekon terrorist
organization to find leads that will help in resolving unanswered
questions surrounding Dink’s murder.
Dink was shot dead outside the offices of the Agos newspaper in
Ä°stanbul in January 2007. "Hrant’s murder was committed
following a long period of preparation. Some people who have been
arrested as a result of the Ergenekon operation were very active in
the process leading to Hrant’s murder. For example, take Levent
Temiz. He had come to the street where Agos’ office is located and
protested against Hrant. In those protests, he clearly said ‘Hrant
Dink is our target’ in 2004," Ã?etin explained.
The sixth hearing of the trial over Dink’s murder last Monday was open
to the press, for the first time since OgÃ¼n Samast, who
confessed to the murder, became 18.
For Monday Talk Ã?etin discussed the progress of the murder
trial since it started a year ago.
What has happened in the year since the Dink murder trial began?
We have seen some important developments over the course of the
trial. One of the most important of these developments was that during
a separate trial going on in Trabzon; two gendarmerie officers changed
their previous testimonies and said they were informed about the
murder plot against Dink and that they informed their superiors about
it, but the higher officers did not take action. In addition, they
said the superior officers made up false reports after the murder and
threatened a suspect’s uncle to prevent him from telling the
truth. This was the first important change.
What is the other important development?
Some officials from the Trabzon security forces had contacted
Ä°stanbul security officials and informed them that Hayal would
come to Ä°stanbul to kill Dink. However, the Ä°stanbul
police did nothing although it and prepared false reports as if it
had. These important factors have been revealed.
What does this show?
It shows that the security forces, which are responsible for ensuring
our safety, not only knew about the plans to murder Dink but also
helped the murder to be carried out.
How long have you been saying this?
We have been saying this from the beginning. Following an inspection
from the Ä°stanbul police, we looked at the documents and saw
the false report. And when we saw the documents related to the pending
case in Trabzon, we saw falsely documented reports there, too. We had
another development at the sixth hearing.
Erhan Tuncel [another suspect linked to the Dink murder who was
previously charged with being a member of an armed criminal group
formed to commit crimes and inciting premeditated murder] demanded
that intelligence officers who had been working at the Trabzon
security forces be called to the next hearing, and the court agreed to
this. So we will hear from those intelligence officers in the next
hearing on Oct. 13.
You have long argued that all the separate cases related to Dink’s
murder should have been combined. Why is it so important to do that?
In order to solve the murder case, we need to be able to see the whole
picture that led to Dink’s murder. We cannot do that with one separate
case in Trabzon, another in Samsun and yet another in Ä°stanbul.
What do you expect to see if those cases are combined?
There are several actors who played roles in Dink’s murder. The murder
did not happen all of a sudden as a result of one person’s decision to
commit the crime. If all the separate cases are combined, we expect
that the perpetrators will be punished commensurate with the crime
they committed. For example, in a separate case in Trabzon somebody
has been punished with a prison sentence of six months for dereliction
of duty. However, if that case was part of the main murder trial, then
we would be able to ask for his punishment under Articles 83 and 220
of the Turkish Penal Code [TCK]. Article 83 relates to malicious
murder by dereliction of duty. And Article 220 clearly states that if
you contribute to organized crimes intentionally, as in the case of
Dink’s assassination, then you need to be tried and punished
accordingly. So we would see heavier punishments for the defendants if
their cases were handled under the main Dink trial.
Why do you think this is not happening?
There is a law numbered 4483 in Turkey that protects public
workers. The mentality behind this law is that the deep-state elements
have had some jobs done through some public officers and, as a result,
those workers need to be protected. It works like this: Suspects are
evaluated under Law 4483 and their cases are sent to the governor for
his permission to assign an inspector. If the governor permits an
inspector to look into the case, he or she looks at whatever documents
are provided and writes a report so a decision is made whether or not
there will be an investigation about the suspects.
How did it work in Trabzon?
With the governor’s permission an inspector prepared a report. And
based on that report an investigation started about those two
gendarmerie officers who told the prosecutor that they were informed
by Yasin Hayal’s uncle about the murder plan and let their superiors
know about it so even that little case resulted in such a
revelation. If the governor had permission to investigate the Trabzon
security forces as a whole, we could have obtained much more
information about Hrant’s murder.
Hayal, who confessed to inciting the killing of Dink by providing
gunman Samast with a gun and money, has been under the scrutiny of the
police since he served time in prison after bombing a McDonald’s
restaurant in Trabzon in 2004, right?
As we have found out, Hayal was being monitored by both the police and
the gendarmerie since the McDonald’s case. CoÅ?kun
Ä°Ä?ci, Hayal’s uncle, who testified last Monday, said he
tried to dissuade Hayal from his plans to have Dink murdered but was
unable to do so and thus informed gendarmerie officers, who told him
they were already monitoring Hayal.
Were they physically following him?
They were physically following him and also listening to his phone
Are there documents of this?
Most of the documents have not been shared with the prosecutors. They
were either `lost’ or `destroyed.’ We also asked the Trabzon security
forces for those documents, but they said they sent `the necessary
parts’ to the prosecutors and then destroyed the rest. During our
investigation process into Hrant’s murder, I also found out that
intelligence units of the state do not share information with each
other, although there is a law to make sure they do.
Why don’t they share information?
I can only speculate and say there may be a power struggle.
What has happened in regards to the Ä°stanbul police?
There was no permission given for an investigation into
Ä°stanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah. We objected to that
decision, but our objection was overturned.
Isn’t it quite unusual in Turkey that those gendarmerie officials
changed their testimonies and then returned to their duties as though
it was business as usual? You wouldn’t expect they would be able to
overstep their superior, would you?
That’s right. They even returned to their previous posts. This tells
us that recent developments in Turkey might have had an effect on all
Developments related to the Ergenekon investigation and the arrests of
dozens of people who might have been involved in organized crime. In
the past, Col. Ali Ã-z, who was then gendarmerie regiment commander
in Trabzon and in charge of the two gendarmerie officials, was able to
pressure lower officers, but now things are changing.
So Ã-z is a name that the criminal network can dispense with?
Yes, he is the one being pointed at for now. Ali Ã-z has been
involved in other cases that are thought to be related to the deep
state. He was tried before. One of those cases relate to the murder of
journalist Ahmet Taner KÄ±Å?lalÄ±. Ali Ã-z is
believed to have arrived at the murder scene first and destroyed most
of the evidence.
Where is Ã-z now?
He was transferred in March from the Aegean city of Bilecik to the
Bursa Gendarmerie. He should have been removed from duty as soon as
his involvement in Dink’s murder case was understood. He will testify
in Bursa this month.
You indicated before that you will thoroughly review the Ergenekon
indictment in order to find leads related to Hrant Dink’s
assassination. What do you expect to find?
Hrant’s murder was committed following a long period of
preparation. Some people who have been arrested as a result of the
Ergenekon operation were very active in the process leading to Hrant’s
murder. For example, take Levent Temiz. He had come to the street
where Agos’ office is located and protested against Hrant. In those
protests, he clearly said `Hrant Dink is our target’ in 2004.
In 2004 Hrant Dink had published an article in Agos that Sabiha
GÃ¶kÃ§en, the adopted daughter of the founder of modern
Turkey, Mustafa Kemal AtatÃ¼rk, and Turkey’s first female pilot
was an Armenian orphan, right?
At the beginning of 2004, Dink had this story in Agos, and
HÃ¼rriyet took this story and exaggerated it. Hrant was called
to the Governor’s Office together with his documents over the
story. He went to the Governor’s Office, where he was threatened by
the deputy governor’s two `guests,’ who did not identify themselves,
as Hrant told us. He was not even asked to leave the documents he
brought with him. Then we started to see ultranationalist groups’
protests in front of Agos and several Article 301 charges against
Hrant Dink. Some petitioners in the cases and some who followed those
cases closely — such as retired Gen. Veli KÃ¼Ã§Ã¼k,
Kemal KerinÃ§siz, Oktay YÄ±ldÄ±rÄ±m and Sevgi
Erenerol — have been arrested in relation to the Ergenekon
investigation. These are just the things I can pinpoint while
observing the Ergenekon operation from outside.
A close friend of Hrant Dink, writer and intellectual Ali
BayramoÄ?lu, had said during a Monday Talk interview following
the detentions of a number of people under the Ergenekon investigation
that Dink would have said `justice has been done’ if he had seen the
arrests. Do you share this opinion?
The arrests were important, but we can only say that justice has been
done when all the evidence in the Hrant’s murder has been laid out and
the perpetrators have been punished in accordance with the crimes they
What would KÃ¼Ã§Ã¼k do during the trials against
He and his supporters were doing the same things at Elif Å?afak
and Orhan Pamuk’s trials. I would always ask for special security
before the trials against Hrant Dink. Veli KÃ¼Ã§Ã¼k
would come to the hearings with his supporters, and we would have to
go through a crowd that was ready to lynch
Hrant. KÃ¼Ã§Ã¼k’s supporters would kiss his hand. He
wanted to be an intervening party in the case because he claimed that
as Turks, they were harmed by Hrant Dink’s statements regarding Turks’
relations with Armenians in this country.
Were you prompted to suspect new links with the latest round of
arrests related to the Ergenekon operation?
Levent Temiz was among the latest detainees, so it was important for
us to know that he was a suspect in the Ergenekon case. He was the
first to threaten Hrant Dink publicly. He later became a lawyer and
wanted to be an attorney of an intervening party in Dink’s trials. His
acts were important to starting an uproar on the streets against
Hrant. Solving Hrant Dink’s murder means also solving the Ergenekon
case because Dink’s murder showed the world that elements within the
state were involved in the murder plot. This fact directly relates to
the Ergenekon case. We lost Hrant, but we have been given an
opportunity to uncover deep state elements.
Fethiye Ã?etin, lawyer and human rights activist
Ã?etin represents the family of Turkish-Armenian journalist
Hrant Dink, who was assassinated on Jan. 19, 2007 by a 17-year-old
influenced by ultranationalism. Ã?etin also represented Dink
several times before his death when he was prosecuted for insulting
Turkishness and receiving death threats from Turkish
ultranationalists. Turkey saw the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup when
Ã?etin was at the faculty of law at Ankara University. In that
period, she was arrested and put in prison for violating the infamous
Article 141 (repealed in the late ’80s) of the Turkish Penal Code
(TCK) because she was a member of the Turkish Communist Party. She has
been working as an attorney in Ä°stanbul since 1991. A former
spokesperson for the minorities’ commission of the Ä°stanbul Bar
Association, she concentrates on cases related to human rights,
minority rights and freedom of speech. In 2004 she wrote the book
`Anneannem’ (‘My Grandmother’), which has been translated into several
languages, including English. It is an homage to the memory of her
grandmother and others who were once Armenian Christians but had to
live hidden lives as Turkish Muslims.
14 July 2008, Monday
YONCA POYRAZ DOÄ?AN Ä°STANBUL