ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News) — Police officer Muhittin Zenit, who had been in contact with a key informant in murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, has said he was prevented from giving testimony in the slaying by former police intelligence chiefs Ramazan Akyürek and Ali Fuat Yilmazer.
Zenit, who was arrested as part of an investigation into public servants accused of negligence in the murder of Dink, wrote his testimony on March 20 before sending it to the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office.
After Zenit’s statements, prosecutor Gökalp Kürkçü took the testimony of several officials, including Yilmazer, who was the former Istanbul police intelligence chief when Dink was shot dead on Jan. 19, 2007, in Istanbul.
Akyürek was the Trabzon Police Department head at the time of murder.
On May 28, Yilmazer reportedly told prosecutor Kürkçü that he told Akyürek, the former head of Turkey’s Police Intelligence Department, and Zenit not to go to Istanbul to give testimony regarding incidents in the lead-up to the Dink murder.
Yilmazer told the prosecutor that he had informed Zenit and Akyürek that it not be correct to provide testimony regarding key figure Erhan Tuncel’s past as a police informant.
“I told Ramazan Akyürek not to be part of such an incident. I said his [Tuncel] contact with us had been cut long ago and that he had not informed us correctly about the incidents. We cannot talk about a person as an informant when he hides the facts about a murder. A week later, Muhittin Zenit called me and said that his testimony had been demanded in connection with [Tuncel] in Istanbul. I told him that it was not right for him to get involved over someone who had already cut his ties with us,” Yilmazer reportedly told the prosecutor.
The Istanbul Police Department later learnt that Tuncel was a former police informant from his own testimony rather than learning it from the Trabzon police or police intelligence unit.
Ogün Samast assassinated Dink in broad daylight on a busy street outside of the office of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos in Istanbul’s Sisli district. Samast is serving a sentence of 22 years and 10 months in a high-security prison. Yasin Hayal and Tuncel were accused of encouraging Samast to kill Dink in the Black Sea province of Trabzon.