ANKARA: ‘Police, Gendarmerie Have Responsib


Zaman Online
July 24 2008

Both the Trabzon police and the gendarmerie are culpable in not
preventing the assassination of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink,
a subcommittee of Parliament’s Human Rights Commission announced

Dink was gunned down by a teenager outside his newspaper’s Ä°stanbul
office in January 2007, but the ensuing investigation has been highly
controversial. The investigation made it obvious that the young man
hadn’t acted alone but was in fact driven by a group of people whom
he called older brothers who had plotted for more than a year. One of
these men, a former police informant, allegedly tipped off the police
on more than one occasion about the assassination plan. Another
witness during the trial testified that he too had been informed
about the plan to kill Dink by a gendarmerie colonel. In addition to
shady links between the suspects and security institutions, lawyers
representing the Dink family at various times have accused the police
of destroying vital evidence and concealing crucial information from
the court and the prosecution.

In a 180-page report on their investigation, head of the subcommittee
on the Dink murder Mehmet Ocaktan said on Tuesday that the commission
has reached the conclusion that "there has been negligence, fault
and bad coordination both on the part of the police department and
the gendarmerie."

Ocaktan and other commission members — Justice and Development Party
(AK Party) Bingöl deputy Kazım Ataoglu, Nationalist Movement Party
(MHP) Ä°zmir deputy Å~^enol Bal and Democratic Left Party (DSP)
Ä°stanbul deputy AyÅ~_e Jale AgırbaÅ~_ — held a press conference
yesterday to announce the findings of their months-long investigation.

Currently, two Turkish security officials, identified as Col. Ali Oz
and Capt. Metin Yıldız, are facing an investigation over suspicions
of "hiding information and failing to act" on reports Dink was in
danger. However, attempts to start an inquiry into Ä°stanbul Police
Chief Celalettin Cerrah and seven other police officers were prevented
by an Ä°stanbul court on Tuesday.

Highlights from the report

The report noted that in cases of prior information about a clear
and real danger the authorities must do whatever is in their power
to prevent the threat from being carried out.

It also stated that although members of the police force and the
gendarmerie were aware of the danger Dink was in, they had failed
to properly investigate the intelligence they had on the murder plot
and fend off the murder, costing Dink his life.

The report noted that under Turkey’s Provincial Administration Law,
local authorities have the highest responsible for ensuring the
security of districts. "This is why they should share information
from security forces with each other. Local authorities should not
allow illegal activity in their area of responsibility and should not
allow security forces to operate outside of the coordination network
by utilizing inspection mechanisms," the report said.

The document recommended that the necessary regulations be put in
place for recording information necessary to intelligence units of
the country in a common database, which would allow these units to
easily exchange information.

It also proposed new rules to regulate recruiting and firing of
civilians for the position of assistant agent. Erhan Tuncel, one
of the key suspects in the Dink murder, was an ex-police informant
who was fired but nevertheless maintained his relationship with the
police department. "Rehiring of a helper agent who has been fired
by another security force should be prevented," noted the report. It
also suggested setting up a database accessible to all intelligence
units on such individuals. Increasing the number of police officers
in Ä°stanbul was another recommendation in the report.

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Report: Gendarmerie officer afforded special honor

According to a report published in Birgun yesterday, Trabzon Governor
Nuri Okutan, who refused to grant permission for the launch of an
inquiry into a gendarmerie officer Col. Ali Oz over the Hrant Dink
murder, once awarded the officer a plaque.

In the second hearing in the trial of gendarmes Okan Å~^imÅ~_ak and
Veysel Å~^ahin, the two testified that they knew about the plot to
kill Dink six months before the murder and recounted that they had
informed Gendarmerie Intelligence Director Capt. Metin Yıldız who,
in turn, informed Provincial Gendarmerie Commander Col. Oz. The two
officers testified that Oz did nothing upon receiving the information.

Oz is now being investigated, but Trabzon Governor Okutan had initially
denied permission for an investigation, in May of last year. Birgun’s
report said the governor also awarded Oz with a plaque after a sports
event in August, at a time when the memory of Dink’s murder only a
few months earlier was fresh and the investigation was revealing new
and strange connections between certain gendarmerie officers and the
murder every day. Ä°stanbul Today’s Zaman