Turkey detains ex-police chief over Armenian journalist murder

Turkish authorities on Thursday detained a former head of national police intelligence on accusations of negligence over the 2007 murder of an ethnic Armenian journalist that shocked the country.

AFP| Last Updated: Feb 26, 2015, 20:43 PM IST

Istanbul: Turkish authorities on Thursday detained a former head of national police intelligence on accusations of negligence over the 2007 murder of an ethnic Armenian journalist that shocked the country.

Ramazan Akyurek was detained by counter-terrorism police in Ankara as part of an investigation into suspected negligence by former police officials in the murder of Hrant Dink, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

He is among nine high-ranking police officers accused of ignoring warnings of a threat to Dink and failing to carry out an effective probe into Turkey's most notorious murder of recent years.

Akyurek, the most high-profile police officer accused in the case, faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty on charges of allowing the "committing (of) a premeditated murder through an act of negligence."

Dink, 52, was shot dead in broad daylight by a teenage ultranationalist outside the offices of his newspaper Agos, a bilingual weekly published in Armenian and Turkish.

A prominent member of Turkey's small Armenian community, he campaigned for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation but was reviled by nationalists for describing the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide, a label that Ankara fiercely rejects.

Ogun Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.

But the murder grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces knew of a plot to kill Dink, but failed to act.

Turkey's top court in July ruled that the investigation into the killing had been flawed, paving the way for the trial of state officials who could be implicated in the murder.

Erhan Tuncel, a former informant accused of instigating the murder, had testified in December 2013 that he had informed Akyurek of the plan to kill Dink but that his warnings were unheeded.

Akyurek had already been removed from his post in a mass purge of police officers believed to be linked to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The authorities accuse Gulen -- who has emerged as the arch enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- of concocting a corruption scandal that rocked the Islamic-rooted government late in 2013.