Thousands March in Istanbul for Justice over Dink Murder

Thousands of people marched though central Istanbul on Monday calling for justice over the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink who was shot dead in broad daylight eight years ago.

Holding signs in Turkish, Armenian and English reading "Justice for Hrant", they rallied around the offices of the Agos newspaper, a bilingual Turkish and Armenian weekly, which he edited.

The memorial rally -- an annual event but considerably larger than in previous years -- coincided with the arrest by the Turkish authorities of a senior police officer accused of failing to prevent the killing.

Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of Agos on January 19, 2007 in Turkey's most notorious murder of recent times.

Ogun Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.

But the murder grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that the security forces knew of a plot to kill Dink, but failed to act.

A court on Monday remanded in custody Ercan Demir, who was police intelligence chief of the Black Sea Trabzon region where the gunman and his suspected accomplices came from.

He is accused of failing to act on intelligence that could have prevented the murder.

Demir had been controversially named police chief of the southeastern Sirnak province but an arrest warrant was issued for him last week and he turned himself into the police in Ankara.

Turkey had on Tuesday arrested two other lower ranking policeman on charges of negligence for failing to prevent the murder.

Dink, a major figure in Turkey's tiny but prominent Armenian community, has long pushed for a reconciliation between Turks and Armenians after decades of bitterness.

Armenians accuse Ottoman forces during World War I of carrying out a genocide against their forebears that left an estimated 1.5 million people dead. But modern Turkey has always vehemently resisted terming the mass killings as genocide.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the tragedy and the date appeared to give the Dink memorial march additional impetus.

Some held banners referring to the events such as "become conscious of the genocide along with Hrant Dink". Others held cards reading: "We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians."

Less than 10 percent of Turks believe their government should recognize the mass killings of Armenians in World War I as genocide, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

Supporters of Dink's family have long feared that those behind the murder were protected by the state and have asked for a deeper investigation.

Source: Agence France Presse

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