ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–Thousands of Turks on Saturday took part in a ceremony in Istanbul to mark the first anniversary of the murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
The crowds carrying banners and placards with slogans saying, "We want justice" and "For Hrant, for justice" gathered outside the offices of the Agos newspaper where Dink was shot dead on January 19 2007.
Police closed the streets around the office of the newspaper of which Dink was editor when he was murdered, in order to allow for the thousands to take part in the ceremony, which included speeches from friends and colleagues of Dink as well as his widow Rakel.
"What has this country’s justice system done to those police officers who knew he would be killed," Rakel Dink asked the crowd after a minute of silence was observed.
The 52-year-old Dink, whom Turkish nationalists hated for calling the World War I massacres of Armenia’s genocide, was shot dead on January 19, 2007, outside the offices of his Agos newspaper in downtown Istanbul. The self-confessed gunman, 17-year-old Ogun Samast, alleged mastermind Yasin Hayal and 17 suspected associates went on trial in Istanbul last year.
The murder investigations last year revealed that security authorities had failed to act on numerous death threats that Dink and his family had received.
Meanwhile, the Armenian Cooperation Center of Georgia together with the Council of National Minorities under Georgia’s ombudsman office Saturday organized an event in Javakhk dedicated to the memory of Hrant Dink, Giorgi Sanaia, Anna Politkovskaya and many other journalists killed in the line of duty.
Entitled "Journalists: Victims of Freedom of Speech," the event took place in the office of the Ombudsman of Georgia and featured speeches by the Public Defender of eorgia Sozar Subari and the President of the Armenian Cooperation Center Karen Elchian.
The event also featured a photo exhibition as well a screening of a documentary film about Dink.
Representatives of the media, non-governmental organizations, and the Armenian Community of Georgia were also present at the event.
Information booklets on Hrant Dink and the Armenian Genocide were distributed in the church of Surb Gevork during the mourning liturgy dedicated to the anniversary of the murder of the well-known journalist.
Nearly 111 journalists were assassinated throughout the world in 2007, a jump from previous years.
In other news, two Turkish soldiers accused of covering up intelligence about the plan to murder Dink months before it occurred went on trial Tuesday, Anatolia news agency reported.
They are the first members of the security forces to stand trial in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, where the murder was allegedly planned, amid widespread allegations that some officers condoned the killing and did not act to prevent it.
Hayal’s uncle testified Tuesday that he had informed the two defendants–members of the Trabzon gendarme, a paramilitary force policing rural areas–that his nephew was planning to kill Dink, and accused the pair of trying to cover up the tip-off.
"I told them that Yasin Hayal was planning to kill Hrant Dink three or four months before his murder," Coskun Igci told the judge, adding that the soldiers also knew that his nephew was looking for a gun to buy.
"Several days after Dink was killed, they came to me and asked me not to speak to anyone about what we had talked before," he said.
The defendants, who were not present at the hearing and were named by Anatolia only as O.S. and V.S., risk between six months and two years in jail for "abuse of power".
Dink’s murder has prompted fresh calls on Ankara to eliminate the "Deep State"–a term used to describe an alliance between certain political parties, the state bureaucracy, judicial system and security forces to preserve what they consider Turkey’s best interests. Lawyers for Dink’s family say the police withheld and destroyed evidence to cover up the murder, including footage from a bank security camera in downtown Istanbul near where Dink was killed.
Prosecutors say police received intelligence as early as 2006 of a plot to kill Dink being organized in Trabzon. In September, two policemen went on trial in the northern city of Samsun for their role in a scandal that saw security forces pose for "souvenir" pictures with the gunman after he was captured there a day after the murder.
Dink had won many hearts in Turkey with his efforts for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and more than 100,000 people marched at his funeral.