Dink Killer's Father Says State Officials Praised His Son
Today's Zaman, Turkey Nov 15 2011
Bahattin Hayal, the father of Yasin Hayal, said on Monday that he had received congratulatory phone calls from state officials following the murder of Dink. (Inset picture: Yasin Hayal is accused of having solicited Dink's hitman, Ogun Samast.)
The father of one of the prime suspects in the 2007 shooting of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was the editor-in-chief of the Agos newspaper, has claimed that he received calls from "state officials" who congratulated him on having raised a worthy son.
Bahattin Hayal, the father of Yasin Hayal, accused of having solicited Dink's shooter Ogun Samast to carry out the murder, spoke to journalists following the latest session of the trial held on Monday.
Bahattin Hayal says at least two prosecutors from Trabzon, the hometown of the suspects where the plan to assassinate Dink was hatched, according to prosecutors, urged him to change his initial testimony, which included information about phone calls from state officials.
Monday's session was the 21st hearing being heard by the Ä°stanbul 14th Heavy Criminal Court. The court ruled that Yasin Hayal was criminally liable based on experts' reports on his psychiatric condition filed by the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK).
Bahattin Hayal said he wanted to speak in the courtroom, but the panel of judges denied him the opportunity, after which he spoke to reporters outside the courtroom.
He said he had reported the congratulatory phone calls in his initial testimony, but two prosecutors from Trabzon told him his statement could give him trouble. He said he had a meeting at the local police department shortly after the Dink murder, where he was told by officials that his son worked for the state and took care of important business.
"These prosecutors told me that I could get in trouble if I didn't change my statement," he said, noting that he was congratulated by a "state official," without giving any names. The official told him that he had raised a "worthy son who had served his country."
He did, however, name the person who revealed his son's position as a state agent during his meeting at the Trabzon Police Department's Counterterrorism Unit. Bahattin Hayal claimed that officer Yahya Ozturk told him that the state needed people like Yasin, and assured him that he would be out in no time. He said that Prosecutor Ali Can had called him five or six months after the meeting and recommended he retract his statement, but he refused. "He threatened me," Bahattin Hayal noted.
He also said that his son had no idea who Dink was. "Yasin didn't know who Hrant Dink was. Erhan [Tuncel, another suspect in the murder] showed him a picture on the computer, telling him, 'This is the Ataturk of the Armenians'."
Prosecutor Hikmet Usta reiterated his earlier view that the gang that assassinated Dink was the Trabzon branch of Ergenekon, a clandestine network whose suspected members are currently charged with plotting to overthrow the government. More than 100 suspects, including retired army generals, are on trial. There are also several related trials where the suspects are accused of carrying out different plans laid out by Ergenekon.
"We have to trust our state. We can't declare the state an enemy. Dark points will be illuminated. The truth will prevail," Usta said.
Bahri Belen, a lawyer for the co-plaintiffs, noted that he and other lawyers had walked out of the courtroom in the previous session and clarified that the walk-out was not meant to be in protest of the prosecutor. "The state is not an abstract formation that came down from the sky. The state can only be a state governed by the rule of law to the extent it protects the right to a fair trial and the freedom of expression. A state that fails to ensure these has no legitimacy," he stated.
Dink family lawyer Fethiye Cetin responded to Usta's proclamation that the truth will prevail, saying: "The judiciary, this court is the organ that will bring out the truth. The prosecutor's office is the organ that will start the probe. It is certainly sad that we are still being told to 'wait, for the truth will eventually prevail'."
Eda Salman, a lawyer for Yasin Hayal, noted that a ruling made in the 41st session of the main Ergenekon trial referred to Ergenekon as "the alleged Ergenekon organization." She said the prosecutor needs to retract his statement as the existence of the organization is still in dispute. The next hearing in the Dink trial is scheduled for Dec. 5.
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