October 25, 2013 - 17:33 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Erhan Tuncel, the suspected instigator of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, recently met with Mehmet Ali Ağca, who attempted to assassinate the late Pope John Paul II in 1981, Hürriyet Daily News reported.
Tuncel was fugitive at the time but “hiding” in Istanbul’s coastal town of Kumburgaz, although locals and police were aware of his identity.
Tuncel, who was arrested by Istanbul’s 14th High Criminal Court on Oct 24, first met Ağca in a café during his recent period in hiding and told him, “I am one of your biggest fans,” according to an eyewitness whose name was kept secret.
The duo then met on a number of subsequent occasions in the same place, witnesses said.
The cafe by the sea was being managed by Tuncel’s fellow townsmen from the southeastern Turkish province of Elazığ, and Tuncel generally spent his days in Kumburgaz reading books by the sea, according to reports.
Ağca and Tuncel had “long hours of talks” at the café, the witness said.
“He had two mobile phones, his cigarettes and books. He would not talk too much. We would see him talking to his fellow townsmen from Elazığ and occasionally with the police. Policemen would call him ‘Mr. Erhan,’” the witness said.
Tuncel was captured by police on Oct 23 as he was out doing his “daily jogging.” The court decided to arrest him the next day.
He had spent 38 days on the run, but he claims that he was hiding out in order to prepare his defense.
Tuncel moved to Kumburgaz after being released by the court on Jan 12, 2012. He rented a villa by the sea and spent the summer in the town, but Kumburgaz locals said he had been away from his house after a new arrest warrant was issued for him. The villa’s owner is still unknown.
The trial concerning the Dink murder restarted in Istanbul on Sept 17 this year following an overturning from the Supreme Court of Appeals after six years of legal procedures. The court had issued an arrest warrant for Tuncel. On the same day, Tuncel went to Kumburgaz State Health Center and he said he was suffering from a back illness, Doctor Sinan Önder said. Tuncel got a rest day report from the doctor and sent it to the court.
Tuncel was an informant in the Black Sea province of Trabzon ahead of the murder of Dink, the editor-in-chief of Armenian-Turkish weekly Agos who was shot dead in broad daylight in Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.
The trial concerning the murder restarted in September, and the court subsequently issued an arrest warrant for Tuncel.
Tuncel is seen as key in linking the murder to the state institutions, as members of the police department in Trabzon, the hometown of the suspects, have been accused of failing to relay intelligence provided by Tuncel to the Trabzon Gendarmerie Command, in a report prepared by Turkey’s State Supervisory Council (DDK).