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RSF alarmed over premature closure of prosecution case in Dink murder trial

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders shares the view of the family of murdered newspaper editor Hrant Dink that it is premature for the prosecution to conclude its case in the trial of his accused murderers. Dink's family and its lawyers walked out of the Istanbul courtroom in protest when prosecutor Hikmet Usta began reading his 86-page summing-up during the 20th hearing on 19 September.

"We have always said that the slowness with which this trial was proceeding was unbearable, but hastily concluding the prosecution case will not help the truth to emerge," Reporters Without Borders said. "Many aspects of this case still need to be clarified. It is vital that the judicial system complete its work before issuing a decision.

"Closing the case now would just reward the ill will displayed by the many government officials who either stalled when asked by the court to provide information or deliberately destroyed evidence and are thereby responsible for many of the gaps in the prosecution's case."

Dink family lawyer Fethiye Cetin said: "It is entirely premature to talk of summing up, inasmuch as essential elements in the case are missing."

Important witnesses such as Ergün Cagatay and police informer Sinan Rasitoglu have still not been located by the judicial authorities. Despite a recent court decision making it obligatory, the High Council for Telecommunications (TIB) has still not provided the court with a register of the phone calls made in the area where Dink was shot dead, the Istanbul district of Sisli, at the time of his murder on 19 January 2007.

As a result, investigators have still not been able to trace the phone calls that a suspect – seen in the area on surveillance cameras – made just before and after the murder. Also the two individuals accompanying convicted killer Ogün Samast on the street in Sisli when he gunned Dink down have still not been identified. And it has not been possible to restore some surveillance camera recordings that were deleted by the Istanbul anti-terrorist department.
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