ISTANBUL (AFP)–The family of slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink asked prosecutors Saturday to launch judicial action against the police on charges of protecting the murderer, Anatolia news agency reported.
The application concerns members of the security forces who took "souvenir pictures" with the self-confessed killer, 17-year-old Ogun Samast, after he was captured in the northern city of Samsun, a day after shooting Dink in Istanbul on January 19. Footage leaked to the media at the time showed officers posing with Samast as he held a Turkish flag, unleashing accusations that some officials may secretly approve of the murder.
A prominent member of Turkey’s tiny Armenian community, Dink campaigned for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation, but was hated by nationalists for describing the mass killings of Armenia’s under the Ottoman Empire as genocide, a label that Ankara fiercely rejects.
"The officers… greeted the murder suspect as a national hero and queued up to take souvenir pictures with him," the Dink family’s lawyers said in their application against 21 members of the police and the gendarme, a paramilitary force policing rural areas. "A kiss on the forehead was the only thing he was not given," it said.
The lawyers demanded that the officers be put on trial for "abusing office,"protecting a criminal offender" and "commending crime," Anatolia reported. The application called for the annulment of an earlier decision by prosecutors in Samsun that there was no ground to indict the officers on the said charges.
The police are also under fire for failing to prevent the murder despite having received intelligence of a plot to kill Dink being organized in the northern city of Trabzon, the home of Samast and most of his 17 suspected associates. No official has so far been charged over the murder.
At the first hearing of the trial this month, the court accepted deman’s by the Dink family’s lawyers to expand the investigation after they accused the police of "almost an intentional negligence." Dink’s murder sent Turkey into shock and more than 100,000 people marched at his funeral, chanting "We are all Hran’s, we are all Armenia’s."