ISTANBUL — A Turkish court released Erhan Tuncel on Friday, who had previously been acquitted of all charges related to the 2007 killing of Hrant Dink, the late editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, but was then arrested during the retrial of the murder case, Turkish Today’s Zaman Daily reports.
The Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court began a review of the trial late last year after the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the Istanbul court’s ruling from Jan. 17, 2012, which had dismissed the involvement of an organized criminal network in the murder.
Tuncel was released as part of a bill reducing the maximum period of arrest to five years, which was signed into law by Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Thursday night. The court ruled that Tuncel’s detention period as a suspect had exceeded the maximum, as he had been under arrest for five years and five months.
Tuncel, who worked as an informant for the Trabzon Police Department, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the 2004 bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant in the Black Sea town of Trabzon but was acquitted of all charges relating to the Dink murder, including prosecutors’ claims in the first trial that he was the one who had ordered Yasin Hayal, the man who was given a life sentence for soliciting Dink’s shooter, to murder him.
Tuncel, along with all the other defendants, were cleared of membership of a terrorist organization in an earlier ruling of a local court.
Dink was shot and killed in broad daylight on Jan. 19, 2007, by an ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of his newspaper in Istanbul. Evidence discovered since then has led to claims that the murder was linked to the “deep state,” a term referring to a shadowy group of military and civilian bureaucrats believed to have links with organized crime.