Court overrules acquittal for officers who posed with Dink killer

The high court wanted a retrial for Metin Balta, who was deputy director of the Samsun Police anti-terror department at the time of Dink's murder and Superintendent İbrahim Fırat from the same department.

Court overrules acquittal for officers who posed with Dink killer

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Supreme Court of Appeals has overturned a ruling by a high court that acquitted two police officers who posed in front of a Turkish flag with Ogün Samast, the man who shot journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.

The 4th Chamber of the high court on Thursday annulled the ruling in the trial of the two police officers, who were tried on charges of violating the confidentiality of an investigation. The lower court is now expected to hear the case again on charges of praising a crime and a criminal.

The high court wanted a retrial for Metin Balta, who was deputy director of the Samsun Police anti-terror department at the time of Dink's murder and Superintendent İbrahim Fırat from the same department. The two men took a photograph with Samast, who was captured in Samsun, before he was handed over to authorities in İstanbul. The photo of the two officers, with Samast in the middle, posed in front of a Turkish flag, caused outrage, although it later became clear that the incident should not have come as a surprise. The later Dink murder trial revealed that a number of intelligence officers, both in the gendarmerie and the police department in Trabzon, knew about the plot to assassinate the journalist.

Dink was shot in İstanbul on Jan. 19, 2007. Samast, the hitman, was captured on a bus at the Samsun Bus Terminal, apparently while on his way back to his hometown, Trabzon, after committing the murder. He was later taken to the Samsun Police Department, where the two officers treated the occasion as a photo-op. They were initially charged with the violation of investigational confidentiality and abusing authority, but the Samsun 4th Criminal Court of First Instance acquitted the officers on the grounds of lack of evidence against them.

In its Thursday decision the Supreme Court of Appeals was reviewing an objection filed by the Dink family. Its overturning of the lower court's verdict now paves the way for a new trial. Balta and Fırat face up to two years in prison on charges of praising a crime and the offender.

Dink, a Turkish Armenian, was the editor-in-chief of the bilingual Agos weekly. His death is remembered as a watershed event in Turkey's history of confronting shadow power holders in the background of the state, referred to as the deep state. The court that heard the murder trial found that Samast hadn't acted alone, but it said there was no proof of an organized crime, either. However, this verdict is likely to be overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals, where it is currently under review. The prosecutor's office of the high court has already recommended to overrule, citing evidence indicating the presence of an organized crime network behind the murder.

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2013, 16:52
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