The first day of hearings started with the defence and cross examination of Muhittin Zenit, who was an officer in Trabzon Intelligence Branch at the time of murder. Questions about almost 20 missing intelligence reports, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz, the phone call that Zenit made to Erhan Tuncel after the murder were addressed to Muhittin Zenit. It is also asked who changed the intelligence report by writing “an impactful action”.
suspects Ali Fuat Yılmazer, Ramazan Akyürek and Ercan Demir
are present at the hearing. Tamer Bülent Demirel, Osman Gülbel, Ali
Poyraz and Hamdi Egebatan, who are under arrest because of other
charges, are attending the hearing through video call. Ogün Samast
is also attending through video call.
Other suspects Faruk Sarı, Muhittin Zenit, Onur Karakaya, Sabri Uzun, Celalettin Cerrah and Reşat Altay, who presented his defence during the second set of hearings, are also present at the hearing.
HDP Istanbul MP Garo Paylan and CHP Istanbul MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu are following the hearing.
Lawyers of Dink family Bahri Belen, Hakan Bakırcıoğlu, Sebu Aslangil, Tangül Özer, Melike Polat, Zeynep Parmaksızoğlu are also present.
The hearing started with the defence of Muhittin Zenit, who was an officer in Trabzon Intelligence Branch. Zenit claimed that he provided information to the state 10 months before the murder. Refusing the charge of being a member of an armed organization, Zenit said, “It is impossible to follow the perpetrators and be a part of the murder plans at the same time.”
Here are the highlights from Zenit's statement:
“In all three intelligence reports and the official letter sent to Intelligence Branch and Istanbul Security Directorate, we stated that the plan for murder is persistent. This is also included in the indictment.”
“Dink was blatantly murdered with the efforts of certain media organs and some forces. The prosecution, in its indictment, states that I, along with my friends, provided information about the plans that had been designed in Trabzon.”
“(Referring to ECHR decision) Trabzon Security Directorate informed Istanbul Security Directorate, but they didn't do anything. So, there is no negligence in collecting information, rather there is negligence in the evaluation of the information.”
“I am a public official who is not a part of the plan, but revealed the plan. I did whatever I can for preventing the murder.”
“(Referring to the phone call that he made to Erhan Tuncel after the murder) Erhan Tuncel had been providing information by checking how much we know. He was providing information by forcing methods. I found out how the murder is happened from TV. I was trying to make him talk. I owe an apology for only one person, who is Rakel Dink. That call is of tactical necessity.”
“In the indictment, it is stated that I destroyed the reports with Ercan Demir and Faruk Sarı, when I went to Trabzon. 7 months before the murder, I cut myself off from Trabzon and moved to Bayburt. How could I be possibly have destroyed the reports?”
“I demand release. I fulfilled my duty. I demand to be held exempted from the trial.”
After Zenit's defence, the cross examination of the court and lawyers started.
During the examination, questions about almost 20 missing intelligence reports, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz, the phone call that Zenit made to Erhan Tuncel after the murder were addressed to Muhittin Zenit. It is also asked who changed the intelligence report by writing “an impactful action”, and why he didn't include Zeynel Abidin Yavuz to the reports, though he had known that Yavuz was planned to be used as the hit-man.
Answering the questions of the court, prosecution and lawyers of Dink family, Zenit said that he hadn't heard of Ogün Samast before the murder and Erhan Tuncal didn't say anything about Samast.
Zenit also said that Tuncel provided different information concerning the way in which the murder will be committed and he didn't include those information to the reports, since there was nothing precise. He claimed that this is also why he didn't includ Zeynel Abidin Yavuz to the reports.
Talking about the missing reports, Zenit said that he didn't try to reveal what happened to those reports, since the information in those reports were not that important.
“I don't remember what I had written in the report”
On February 17, 2006, Zenit sent a report to the Directorate of Intelligence saying that “Yasin Hayal will kill Hrant Dink no matter what”, but in the letter sent to Istanbul Intelligence Branch, this remark was changed to “a impactful action”. Answering the question about who made this change, Zenit said, “I wrote the report, but then some changes were made. I don't remember what I had written and what was changed. Özkan Mumcu said that he made some changes. It is obvious what “impactful action” means, but I didn't wrote it.”
After the murder, Zenit went to Trabzon and spent 5 hours in the intelligence branch. He said that he went there in order to “refresh his memory”.
Muhittin Zenit's examination will continue today. After that, Ercan Demir will present his defence.