Turkey suspect says police failed to stop journalist murder

Turkey suspect says police failed to stop journalist murder

ISTANBUL - A former Turkish police informant accused of instigating the 2007 murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink claimed in court Tuesday that he had warned police of the plot but they failed to act.

Erhan Tuncel is being retried in an Istanbul court over the high-profile killing in Turkey's largest city after initially being acquitted of all charges in 2012.

Tuncel, 32, testified on Tuesday that he had informed the former head of police intelligence, Ramazan Akyurek, of the plan to kill Dink but that his warnings went unheeded, according to Turkish press reports.

"I have no connection to the murder. I warned them. The murder could have been prevented," he said.

The case was adjourned until January 7.

Dink, 52, was gunned down in broad daylight by a teenage ultranationalist outside the offices of his bilingual weekly newspaper Agos in January 2007 in a killing that shocked the country.

Dink, then Turkey's most prominent ethnic Armenian journalist and a leading member of the tiny community, had incurred the wrath of Turkish nationalists for calling the World War I massacre of Armenians a genocide.

A crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse for Tuesday's hearing, chanting "the murderer state will be held accountable".

Tuncel's allegations appear to back up widespread accusations of a state conspiracy after media reports that security forces had known of the murder plot but failed to act.

Dink's lawyers and human rights activists believe that those behind the murder were protected by the state because Dink had been receiving threats long before he was killed.

Ethnic Kurdish actor Sermiyan Midyat read out a statement on behalf of the demonstrators Tuesday calling on the government to stop "remaining silent and protecting the civil servants involved in the murder".

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