February 15, 2013 - 14:18 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Lawyers representing the family of slain journalist Hrant Dink say information a secret witness is willing to provide about the murder is highly important but note that they don't want to comment in detail for fear of his safety, Today’s Zaman reports.
Dink family lawyer Fethiye Çetin was quoted by the Star daily on Thursday as saying she knew that information from the unnamed witness was likely to change the course of the Dink murder investigation, but also noted that she and the other lawyers didn't want the witness to get wide press coverage, fearing for his safety. Secret witnesses in other trials have understandably changed their testimonies later due to intimidation -- such as in the case of the Cizre murders trial where a colonel stands accused of having established a death squad under the gendarmerie force.
The secret witness emerged unexpectedly when he wrote to prosecutors earlier this year saying he had comprehensive information about the background of the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Dink, who was the editor-in-chief of the Agos weekly at the time. He said he is willing to share everything he knows about the network behind the murder in return for witness protection.
His initials are M.A. and it has been confirmed that he is an inmate at a prison doing jail time for a homicide conviction. The person, who says he will talk to the court in return for protection both for himself and his family, claims he worked for JİTEM, an illegal organization that was established in the gendarmerie in the 1990s to fight terrorism but employed illegitimate and often brutal methods. He also wrote in his initial letter that he was involved in the planning phase of the murder and has valuable information regarding the planning and the aftermath of the assassination, but stated that he fears his fate might be like that of Mustafa Duyar, one of three members of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) involved in the 1995 murder of businessman Özdemir Sabancı. Witnesses claimed Duyar was killed because he knew too much about those behind the Sabancı murder.
Hakan Bakırcıoğlu, another lawyer representing the Dink family, confirmed that the letter and testimony written by the secret witness had been relayed to the court. However, like Çetin, he also said they weren't willing to talk at length about the witness and what he knows due to safety concerns. Bakırcıoğlu said: “This development [submission of statement to court] wasn't made public due to fears for the witness's safety. We will not make any statements at this point so that the process can move forward in a sound manner.”
Orhan Dink, the late journalist's brother, also responded to questions about the new witness, saying: “The secret witness is giving out very important information. He also says he has more information. Every piece of new information is important.”
Dink was shot dead in broad daylight on Jan. 19, 2007, by an ultranationalist teenager outside the offices of his newspaper in Istanbul.