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Cablegate: Second Session of Dink Murder Trial

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0897 2751423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021423Z OCT 07 ZDK
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7571
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000897

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV TU
SUBJECT: SECOND SESSION OF DINK MURDER TRIAL

REF: ISTANBUL 0577

1. Summary. The second session of the Hrant Dink murder
trial convened on October 1 behind closed doors and
reportedly included, for the first time, the testimony and
confession of primary murder suspect Ogun Samast. Meanwhile,
during the run-up to the hearing, press focused on new
information which added to suspicions that security officials
were complicit in the January 19 assassination. The trial is
scheduled to continue on February 11, 2008. End summary.

2. The Hrant Dink murder trial convened on October 1 for the
first time since hearings began on July 2 at the 14th Penal
Court in Istanbul's Besiktas district (reftel). According to
press reports of statements made by attorneys following the
closed door session, the primary murder suspect, 17-year old
Ogun Samast admitted -- during his first testimony before the
court -- to the January 19 murder of Hrant Dink. Samast,
however, also reportedly claimed he carried out the murder
under duress, accusing another suspect Yasin Hayal of
coercing him by threatening his family. Samast also
allegedly asserted he was forced to take ecstasy pills prior
to the murder in order to give him the "courage" to carry it
through.

3. Attorneys also reported that the Dink family --
represented in court by Hrant Dink's widow Rakel, daughter
Delal and two brothers -- repeated a request to expand the
murder investigation to include Istanbul Police Chief
Celalettin Cerrah for failing to protect the prominent human
rights advocate despite having evidence of threats against
his life. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor has yet to respond
to the request, initially made at the July hearing. The
court is also considering a separate Dink family request to
incorporate into the hearings charges against police officers
who posed with Samast in front of Turkish flags in
controversial photographs taken shortly after the murder
suspect was arrested.

4. During the immediate run-up to the second session, press
widely reported on the content of a telephone conversation,
leaked to the media on September 29, between a police officer
and Erhan Tuncel who has been charged with inciting Dink,s
murder. A transcript of the conversation, which took place
immediately after the January 19 assassination, suggests the
police officer was, at the very least, aware of a plot
against Dink's life, if not involved in a plot himself. The
trial is scheduled to re-convene on February 11, 2008.

5. Comment. The Dink murder trial is expected to continue
for some time along with the associated extended recesses as
officials move forward with their investigations. The
significance of this murder -- and allegations that not just
ultranationalists, but police in some way were complicit
with, or applauded the assassination of this high profile
Turkish-Armenian human rights activist -- will not diminish
with time. End comment.
WIENER

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