The Dink Murder and State Lies


Even if for one moment we believe the state’s statement of “I am not in this thing” with respect to planning and committing the murder of Hrant Dink, it is clear that the state, which has acted negligently and intentionally in the prosecution of the murderers, has been an accomplice. All forces of the state were involved in this murder. The ones who govern the state, in other words the executive and judiciary, were made accomplices to the murder.

Whatever it may say, the state played a role in the planning, committing and prosecution of the murder and covering up the case file through its security forces, gendarmerie, intelligence officers, politicians, inspectors, prosecutors and judges.

Firstly, on 17 August 2010, in my column, I requested that the Honourable President Abdullah Gül prompts the State Supervisory Council (DDK) under his command. In my subsequent articles, I stated that, “The DDK report is the last chance for rescuing the state’s honour”. However, in the report disclosed to the public in January 2012, unfortunately this last chance was lost as well.

Even when I skim through the report, I come to this conclusion: the game (lies) in the Dink murder continues. And, besides, a certain group of bureaucrats compel the state’s entire power to make people believe those lies, but for the public, the game is over, the expiry date of the lies has passed. Regardless of the state’s attempt to acquit public officers, this will not yield any result. The Dink murder is the latest rung in our history of political murders. Like all political murders, the place where the murderers, responsible individuals and state are prosecuted is in society’s conscience. In our society’s conscience it has long been decided who is guilty. It would be expected that the courts’ decision conform to the decision in the people’s conscience. This is the nature of political murders; decision aligned with the people’s conscience.

And for this reason, the reaction created by the 14th High Criminal Court’s decision dated 17 June 2012 in the proceedings, in which only the murderers were tried for five years, acquitting everyone else apart from the instigator, Yasin Hayal, and declaring that “there was no organisation”, was huge. The court’s decision and the decision in the people’s conscience were very different from each other. The court was saying, “there was no organisation behind the murder”, but, nevertheless, was actually displaying the power of the “organisation” by acquitting the official intelligence officer of the Trabzon Police, Erhan Tuncel, who was “the state’s fingerprint in the murder”.

Another aspect of the murder, which was covered up, was the media’s participation. The journalists directed by intelligence officers, who share responsibility in the murder, were made partners in the game instead of seeking the truth. The disinformation in the media regarding the Dink murder ended with the book I wrote in January 2009, titled “The Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies”

Very little was achieved in five years

Hrant Dink was murdered on 19 January 2007. Dink’s murder was so political that the style of the killing carried a message of revenge. He was shot to death in the back of his head, just like the founder of the Union and Progress Party, General Talat, was shot to death by Armenians in the middle of the street in Berlin, on 15 March 1921. Of Armenian origin, journalist Hrant Dink was shot to death in front of everyone in the middle of Istanbul’s Şiflli neighbourhood in front of the Agos newspaper at 14:57. The 17-year old murderer seemed to want to be caught. He even cried out at the crime scene, “I killed him”. Wearing a white cap, it was as if he wanted to be easily identified on the busiest street of Istanbul.

Slim and feeble, a 17 year-old boy, even though he did not fire the gun in his hand again, no one jumped to catch him. He put the gun in his belt and went to his relatives in Istanbul. He spent the night there. The next morning he hopped on the bus to Trabzon, his homeland, wearing his white cap and carrying a Turkish flag with him. Murderer Ogün Samast was going to be caught, but he fled the crime scene. The plan went astray. Some people, who were informed of the situation, departed to Giresun to kill the boy murderer. However, murderer Samast was caught in Samsun. His white cap and the Turkish flag - the trademark of the murder he brought with him on his way to Istanbul - were on him. Indeed, aren’t all political murders in Turkey committed in the name of “country and flag”? And so, it happened this time. In his first statement in Samsun, the murderer said he killed Hrant Dink because he “insulted Turkishness”. Like Mehmet Ali Ağca, who killed journalist Abdi Ipekçi in 1979, he committed the murder by himself, with national sentiments.

The statement given by the murderer of Hrant Dink was reiterated by the then Head of Istanbul Security Forces, Celalettin Cerrah. Also, according to him, “the murder was committed alone and with nationalist sentiments”. A scene was being re-played in the history of unidentified murderers.

Fingerprint of the State

However, before too long, the state’s fingerprint in the murder revealed itself. His name was Erhan Tuncel, an assistant intelligence officer at the Trabzon Police Directorate. Tuncel reported one year before that the murder would occur. All officers at the Trabzon Police Directore, including Chief Officer Ramazan Akyürek, knew about the murder. In fact, a warning about this murder was communicated to the Istanbul Police Directorate on 17 February 2006 and, on the same day, to Branch C at the Directorate of Intelligence Unit in Ankara, which is concerned with minority and right wing terrorist organisations. Exactly one year before, Trabzon, Ankara and Istanbul police knew that Hrant Dink was going to be killed. Subsequent to Ogün Samast’s, the murderer, arrest, Yasin Hayal and his friends were captured and sent to Istanbul on the grounds that they had instigated the murder. One day later, Erhan Tuncel was caught in Trabzon and was handed over to the Istanbul Police. Three days after the murder, on 22 January 2007, Erhan Tuncel explained the connections with the state. He said the murder was planned by Yasin Hayal. However, Yasin Hayal and the other accused were telling different stories. It was alleged that Erhan Tuncel came up with the murder idea, and provided all the information about Hrant Dink, such as his address and photo. Indeed, both Yasin Hayal and murderer Ogün Samast were saying they did not know Hrant Dink and had never read the Agos newspaper. It was alleged that the state’s intelligence officer determined the “Prey” (Hrant Dink) and the “Hunter” (Yasin Hayal, Ogün Samast and their friends). This established the state’s fingerprint in the pre-murder planning. And, at that point, the Chief Officer of Trabzon Police, Ramazan Akyürek, Chief Officer of C Branch of the Intelligence Unit, Ali Fuat Yılmazer, the Head of Istanbul Security Forces, Celalettin Cerrah and the Chief Officer of Intelligence Branch, Ahmet Ilhan Güler, among others, would be responsible for the murder. It was said the Commander of Trabzon Gendarmerie Regiment, Colonel Ali Öz and surely the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) knew about the murder, and turned a blind eye in order for it to happen. They were turning a blind eye to the murder, and after the murder, other state units running the investigation and examination were covering up their crimes.

Here is an account for you: To date, the state issued 28 reports concerning this matter. Courts and prosecutors issued approximately 50 non-jurisdictions, incompetence and non-prosecution decisions. Two indictments were prepared concerning the matter. In the proceedings, where instigators and planners were tried, only Yasin Hayal and Ogün Samast received a sentence. Erhan Tuncel, the intelligence officer, who was alleged to have directed the accused in relation to the murder, was acquitted at the end of the proceedings ,which lasted for five years.

Only Trabzon gendarmerie personnel were brought before the judge: four of them received a four-month sentence, two of them received a two-month sentence and two were acquitted. No one at MIT, which knew since 2003 that Hrant Dink was going to be killed, faced the prosecutor, let alone being tried in court. While no investigation was initiated against the Deputy Head of MIT Istanbul Region, Özel Yılmaz, who was alleged to have threatened Dink in 2004, instead of being dismissed, he was promoted as the Head of the Izmir Region.

As to the police: None of the police officers in Trabzon, Istanbul and Ankara were prosecuted. None of them appeared before a court or even a prosecutor. Yet, among the institutions involved in the planning of the murder from day one, the police were at the forefront. Most of the 28 reports prepared by the state were towards acquitting police officers. An invisible hand always protected the police officers. To date, only one police officer received a long-term suspension of promotion penalty. Five police officers received salary cut penalties, three personnel received a reprimand and one officer received a warning. Non-prosecution decisions were issued with respect to exactly 31 individuals.

Deep labyrinths of Ankara

Among the reports prepared by the state, two of them are highly important. The first one is the Prime Ministerial Inspection Committee’s (BTK) report dated 10 October 2008. The second one is the DDK report that President Abdullah Gül had the DDK prepare. In the report the Prime Minister had the BTK prepare, Head of the Intelligence Unit, Ramazan Akyürek, and Head of C Branch under the Intelligence Unit, Ali Fuat Yılmazer, were explicitly accused. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed this report on 2 December 2008. However, this report has never been made subject of a legal proceeding. On the contrary, it was destroyed within the wheels of bureaucracy in Ankara.

Following the acquittal of the organisation that committed the murder, on 17 January 2012, Prime Minister Erdoğan gave an important guarantee: “The Dink murder shall not and cannot be lost in the deep labyrinths of Ankara”. However, the report President Abdullah had the DDK prepare showing great sensitivity, displayed how the most important report bearing the signature of Prime Minister Erdoğan was lost within those corridors. Between pages 304 and 313, this whole process is explained with all its details. Now let us summarise this process chronologically:

10 October 2008: BTK prepared its report indicating that personnel of the Directorate of Police, Intelligence Unit had been negligent in connection with the Hrant Dink murder.

28 December 2008: Prime Minister Erdoğan signed the BTK report affiliated with him. This meant that a preliminary examination was due for the personnel of the Intelligence Unit of the Police Directorate, in other words, a report was going to be prepared in regard to named police officers and others, whose names was determined, and this was going to be communicated to prosecutors.

9 October 2009: Civil Inspectors of the Ministry of the Interior prepared an investigation report concerning the named police officers, instead of the preliminary report requested by the Prime Ministry. Instead of “conducting a preliminary examination”, the Civil Inspectors conducted a re-investigation into the matter that had been investigated by the Prime Ministry. In this report, the civil inspectors stated that there was no due action to be taken with regard to allegations of “neglect of duty” by the personnel of the Intelligence Unit. In other words, they acquitted the police officers.

8 December 2009: Civil Inspectors of the Ministry of the Interior sent this report, acquitting the police officers, to the Prime Ministry.

18 January 2010: The Presidency of BTK sent a letter to the Civil Inspectors, by which the latter was informed that the report acquitting the police officers was unlawful.

22 January 2010: The Prime Ministry advised the Civil Inspectors that, “Your assignment is not preparing an investigation report, it is conducting a preliminary examination regarding the individuals” and sent its objection letter to the Committee of Civil Inspectors of the Ministry of the Interior and requested it to take the action due under the report.

17 March 2010: Upon the revelation of the two inconsistent reports, the then Minister of the Interior, Beflir Atalay, sent a letter to the Prime Ministry and requested “constitution of a joint investigation team by Civil Inspectors and Inspectors of the Prime Ministry”.

30 April 2010: The President of BTK rejected this request. In his letter, the President of BTK stated that, “The Ministry of the Interior has duty, power and discretion concerning the matters determined by the Prime Ministry Inspection Commission as a result of its investigation.” In other words, the Prime Ministry requested the Ministry of the Interior to take due action based on the report.

5 May 2010: Instead of complying with the Prime Ministry’s request, the Ministry of the Interior decided “not to take action with regard to the allegations in the BTK report”.

2 February 2012: DDK established that the Prime Ministry’s report was swept under the carpet. However, instead of requesting due action under the Prime Ministry’s report, the DDK report concluded “there was no action to be taken with regard to personnel of the Intelligence Unit on the ground that attorneys of Dink family have not objected to this situation through administrative proceedings”. In this way, going back-and-forth between the Prime Ministry and the Ministry of the Interior, the report, signed by the Prime Ministry Erdoğan was lost “within the deep labyrinths of Ankara”.

Presidency report has also been clouded

Unfortunately, the DDK report continued the custom of protecting state officials. It would have been expected that the DDK report would be issued in line with the public’s conscience. However, it turned out that a report was prepared acquitting and relieving police officers from responsibility, in particular intelligence police officers, albeit the Prime Ministerial report. One of the main reasons for this is that Mehmet Ali Özkılıç was among the team who prepared the DDK report. Five years ago, on 5 February 2007, Mehmet Ali Özkılıç together with Chief Civil Inspector Şükrü Yıldız wrote a report (number 138/12, 93/11) stating that officers of the Intelligence Unit of the General Directorate of Police had no responsibility in the Hrant Dink murder. Since then, Mehmet Ali Özkılıç, an inspector at the Ministry of Interior, was promoted to a member of the Presidency of DDK. Therefore, Özkılıç should not have been assigned to an inspection concerning Hrant Dink’s murder, because credibility of a report signed by Özkılıç would be low. This is not Özkılıç’s fault, who wrote a report acquitting the police officers, but was necessary not to create any question mark over the DDK report. Yet, Özkılıç was included in the inspection team. In the end, it was written in the DDK report issued on 2 February 2012, bearing Özkılıç’s signature, that “there was no action to be taken due to Dink’s murder” with respect to officers of the Intelligence Unit of the Police Department.

Conclusion: The state does not blame the state

The point we arrived at in the end is a big zero. This is because two accused were convicted of murder; among gendarmerie, four received a four-month sentence and one received a six-month sentence. Except monetary fines, no police officer received a penalty; no investigation was even initiated against them. Even I was charged with 30-year imprisonment because I published their failures in a book, and was acquitted. In fact, I was arrested and spent 13 months in prison for nothing within the scope of the Ergenekon operation run by those police officers as a “revenge”. But not a single gendarme, police or intelligence officer appeared before a judge or prosecutor. I realised that “The state does not blame the state”. I realised that “intelligence lies” were replaced by “state lies”. My duty as a journalist, just like intelligence officers, is to reveal the lies of the state, “for Hrant, for Justice”.