ANKARA: Dink Murder Probe May Expand To Inclu


Today’s Zaman
July 19 2008

Inspectors from the Interior Ministry investigating the murder of
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink have requested permission to
launch an inquiry into several individuals claimed to have prior
information about the plot to assassinate Dink, reported Milliyet
daily yesterday.

According to Milliyet, upon direction by Interior Minister BeÅ~_ir
Atalay earlier this month, ministry inspectors launched a preliminary
inquiry into the assassination of Dink, who was shot dead in broad
daylight outside the office of his newspaper, Agos, in Ä°stanbul on
Jan. 19, 2007.

Suspicious of contradictory statements by former commander of the
Trabzon Gendarmerie Command Col. Ali Oz and intelligence chief
Capt. Metin Yıldız, who previously refused to cooperate with the
investigation, inspectors asked Trabzon Governor Nuri Okutan earlier
this week to grant them authorization to launch an investigation into
Oz and Yıldız, along with five gendarmerie officers who allegedly
had knowledge of the plot to murder Dink months before the incident

An investigation in the wake of the Dink assassination revealed that
a group of ultra-nationalist youths were behind the murder. Strong
evidence suggested that some members of the group had ties with
the police department in northern Trabzon, the hometown of the
plotters. Some gendarmerie officers later confirmed that they had been
tipped off about the plot to kill Dink before the murder was committed.

Sgt. Maj. Okan Å~^. and Sgt. Veysel Å~^., who appeared in a Trabzon
court in March on charges of dereliction of duty for failing to
take the necessary measures to prevent Dink’s death, confessed
that they had been informed about the murder plot months before his
assassination. "We wanted to share this information with Col. Oz,
but he covered up the issue. He forced us to give false statements
during the course of the investigation," they said.

Oz, who was serving as the Bilecik provincial gendarmerie commander
at the time of the murder, was removed from his position and sent to
the Bursa Regional Command.

Interior Ministry inspectors asked Oz and Yıldız about the
allegations, and they replied that they "might have forgotten about
being informed of the plot." However, the two had previously denied
having prior knowledge of the plot.

If permission is granted to the ministry inspectors, Oz, Yıldız and
five gendarmerie officers will face a probe on suspicion of dereliction
of duty for failing to act on warnings before the Dink murder.