Cablegate: Dink Trial: Justice Delayed...


DE RUEHIT #0054/01 0431313
P 121313Z FEB 10


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. On February 8, poloff attended the chaotic
12th hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial at Besiktas Heavy
Penal Court. A "secret witness" was scheduled to provide
testimony during the hearing but was either "forgotten" at
home by the police or unable to testify due to the lack of an
interpreter, according to the trial's judge. At the hearing,
a representative for a group of aggrieved families who have
lost relatives in unresolved murders said the Dink case
represents an opportunity to uncover those deep forces within
state organs that have played significant roles in political
assassinations. The families submitted a petition to the
Turkish Parliament on February 11, asking it to establish a
research commission to investigate organized political
murders committed in Turkey since 1948. After the hearing,
Hrant Dink's widow and daughter, Rakel and Delal Dink,
emphasized to us the solidarity among this newly assembled
group of families who have suffered through similar "unsolved
murders." While the trial is now moving on to its 13th
hearing in May, there is no indication that it is reaching an
end, further tarnishing the image of Turkey's justice system.

A Trial with No End

2. (SBU) The twelfth hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial
took place on February 8 with heavy attendance. The first
trial hearing took place on July 2, 2007. The next hearing
is scheduled for May 10, 2010. Representatives from the
Brussels and Paris Bar associations were in attendance, as
well as the EU Commission's Human Rights representative and
prominent opinion makers. A total of 25 suspects were
present, including five already under arrest (Yasin Hayal,
Erhan Tuncel, Ogun Samast, Ersin Yolcu, and Ahmet Iskender).
The arrested suspects sat in the center of the court room
surrounded by guards, while the remaining suspects and
witnesses sat or stood amongst the crowd of observers and
reporters until the judges separated the suspects and
witnesses. The atmosphere was tense and several in
attendance loudly made angry and derisive comments following
the judge's statements.

3. (SBU) The hearing lasted nearly 10 hours and included
testimony from witnesses and a letter from the chief of
police in Trabzon at the time of the murders, Ramazan
Akyurek, stating that the telecommunication information of
all the police and intelligence officers cannot be delivered
to the court due to security concerns. One of the Dink family
lawyers responded that according to law, no documents or
files related to a crime can be kept secret.

4. (SBU) Prior to the hearing's start, EU Commission human
rights officer, Sema Kilicer, told poloff that an anticipated
"secret witness" would implicate another person in the
murder. However, the secret witness did not appear at the
hearing due to lack of coordination. According to Delal Dink
(daughter of Hrant Dink), the justice asked the Dink family
why they did not bring the secret witness. The Dink family
had understood that it was the police's responsibility to
collect the secret witness from her home. Finally, the same
justice said that, the court did not bring the secret witness
due to the lack of an interpreter. The Dink family
acknowledged that the witness speaks Armenian better than

5. (SBU) On February 6, newspapers reported that the
inspection report on the 19 police officials involved in the
Dink murder case, completed by the Ministry of Interior,
found no negligence of duty on the part of the police and no
need for disciplinary action. The MOI had pursued the
investigation following a recommendation from the Prime
Ministry's Inspection Board in 2008. Investigations into
potential negligence by Jandarma officials continue.

Aggrieved Families Unite for Justice

6. (SBU) A noticeable addition to the hearing crowd were the
family members of 11 victims of unsolved murders, including
the families of Abdi Ipekci and Ugur Mumcu. Filiz Ali,
daughter of the author and journalist Sabahattin Ali, who was
murdered by unknown perpetrators in 1948, said the Dink case
represents an opportunity to uncover those deep forces within
state organs that have played significant roles in political
assassinations. Hrant Dink's daughter, Delal Dink, told us
that such a gathering of families of disparate political
backgrounds is a first for Turkey. "While not all of the
murder victims and families share the same political
leanings, they all share the same horrible experience and
have the same goal."

7. (SBU) The aggrieved families, according to Delal,
submitted a petition to the Turkish Parliament (TBMM) on
February 11 requesting the establishment of a parliamentary
research commission to investigate "organized political
murders that have been committed in Turkey since 1948."
Except for Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who chose not to
meet with the group, all political parties backed the
proposal. Upon the issuance of the findings of the TBMM's
commission on the Dink murder in 2008, the CHP members of the
commission resigned due to what they felt was an insufficient
investigation. This time, Delal said, they hope the
situation will be different as the families are requesting a
commission with extensive jurisdiction capable of accessing
information that is frequently labeled a "state secret."

8. (SBU) In a dinner at the Consul General's residence on
February 10, Delal and Rakel Dink said they suspect the Dink
murder trial will go on for years because any real findings
will show that the state is at fault - either for negligence
or for participation - and "no one wants to be held
accountable." Both lament the lack of progress in the case
and the embarrassment the trial has become for Turkey. When
asked what alternative there could be, Delal said the only
other approach would be to dedicate a courtroom to the case
where consecutive hearings could take place day after day -
as is occurring with the Ergenekon trial. But she
acknowledged this is unlikely. Unless there is a violation
in the administrative procedure, the family can only take the
case to the European Court of Human Rights after the trial
has finished in Turkey. (Note: Delal explained that the
family already has a case under consideration with the ECHR.
One week prior to his murder, Hrant Dink filed a case with
the ECHR regarding "the right to life" implicating the
Turkish state for its role in making him a target for death
threats. Dink began receiving death threats after the state
convicted him for violating Article 301 of the Turkish
Constitution for insulting Turkishness by writing an article
addressing the Armenian groups obsessed with genocide
recognition and facetiously using the term "dirty Turkish
blood." Delal said that the Turkish government's recent
response to the ECHR was "terrible" because the GOT seemed to
be hiding behind state institutional procedures. End note.)

9. (SBU) Comment: Despite being 12 hearings into the trial,
there is no indication of measurable progress. The number of
suspects has increased and decreased over the last three
years and as time continues, telephone records are destroyed
after the statute of limitation for their use passes. With
each successive stumble - whether fist fights between
suspects as occurred in the eighth hearing, allowing
witnesses and suspects to sit next to one another, or
forgetting a secret witness - the image and strength of the
rule of law in Turkey suffers. The Dink family and the
families of other murder victims are hopeful that the
parliamentary commission, if formed, will yield some answers
and empower the Turkish state to improve its image by
investigating the role of state institutions in these
unsolved murders. End Comment.

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