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Recording of police conversation reveals prior knowledge of journalist Hrant Dink's murder

(BIANET/IFEX) - As the murder trial of journalist Hrant Dink continued on 1 October 2007, a recording of the suspect Erhan Tuncel speaking to police intelligence officer Muhittin Zenit has emerged, though the prosecution has yet to procure it.

The recorded conversation, made public by Murat Utku, a reporter with the Dogan News Agency (DHA), was made one hour and 47 minutes after Dink's murder on 19 January, when his body was still lying on the street. Zenit had called Tuncel, whereupon they discussed the murder.

The conversation revealed that Zenit knew details of the planned murder before it took place. He had said to Tuncel, ". . .they shot him directly in the head. . .the only difference is that he was not going to run away, but this one did". Zenit also swore at Tuncel. Tuncel, who claimed in the conversation not to know about the murder, had replied, "Whoever did it, 'well done' to them."

Zenit, an intelligence officer in Trabozon, made Tuncel a police informant around two years before Dink's murder. Tuncel's code name was "Mehmet Kurt (Wolf)". Zenit was transferred to another city, Bayburt, months before the murder.

Ministry of the Interior inspectors who investigated the Trabzon Police Department in relation to the case had ignored the evidence of negligence (particularly in preventing the murder) and concluded that the police had done their duty and were not at fault. The accusation that Tuncel had informed the police about a planned murder 17 times was dismissed in the report. One of the police officers written about in the report was Zenit. Zenit had told the inspectors that he made the recorded call to Tuncel ignorant of the fact that Tuncel had given up informing the police.

Extracts from the recording show a chilling lack of surprise on both sides about the murder of Dink. They also show that the police had knowledge of details of the planned murder, such as the candidates proposed to carry it out.

T(uncel): They called just a minute ago.
Z(enit): Hmm.
T: They have a number. I could not get through.
Z: Maybe our guys called. . .You know what it's about.
T: No, they just told me.
Z: (laughs) You want me to believe that?
T: I swear this has nothing to do with us.
Z: (swears at Tuncel, not believing him)
(. . .)
Z: The topic we talked about - how many times did we talk about that? We said it then, too, you know. Whether you like it or not, there is going to be blame put there.
T: No, let them blame (them), I don't think anything will come of it.
Because there has been no exit from here (Trabzon). At least I don't think so. . .
(. . .)
Z: There was that one guy. . .
T: Him? He is here, he has not left.
Z: The one that was considered. What was his name again?
T: There was a guy called Zeynel. Then another one came up. I don't think (it was them). . .It was clear how he would be shot. . .
Z: . . .They shot him directly in the head.
T: Is he dead?
Z: Of course. The only difference is that he was not going to run away, but this one did.
T: Has he been caught?
(. . .)
T: . . .If it had to do with us, I will look into it, I will bring (him) and give him over to you in a suitable way.
Z: Why are you bringing him? Why would you want to bring him in?

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