A Turkish court has decided to broaden the investigation into the killing of an ethnic Armenian journalist to consider allegations of official negligence in the slaying, a lawyer said early yesterday.
After a 12-hour hearing on Monday, the court released four of the 18 suspects implicated in the killing of Hrant Dink, who was gunned down on Jan. 19, until the resumption of the trial on Oct. 1.
The killing led to international condemnation and debate within Turkey about free speech. Dink was hated by hardline nationalists for describing the mass kill-ings of Armenians early in the last century as genocide.
The trial is taking place behind closed doors because the alleged gunman, Ogun Samast, is a minor.
Lawyer Bahri Belen, who is representing Dink's family, told reporters early yesterday that the court agreed to broaden the investigation.
Two of the key suspects, Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, claimed they worked for security forces. The alleged gunman remained silent during the trial.
Tuncel, who is suspected of masterminding the killing, reportedly told the court that he was paid by police for gathering intelligence, according to a lawyer who attended Monday's hearing.
The court decided to ask police to provide a list of Tuncel's telephone calls.
Critics have accused authorities of failing to act on reports of a plot to kill Dink, and it is unclear whether allegations that could potentially be embarrassing for top officials will be explored in the trial.
Hayal's lawyer Fuat Turgut said that his client and the gunman were "manipulated by certain forces because of their patriotic feelings."
Turkey had vowed a thorough investigation, and the governor and police chief of the Black Sea city of Trabzon, the hometown of Samast, were removed from office because of negligence. Some security officials who posed for photographs with the gunman as he held a Turkish flag were also dismissed. However, there has been no evidence directly implicating any government officials.
Many Turks are convinced that a so-called "deep state" -- a network of state agents or former officials, possibly linked to organized crime -- periodically targets reformists and other perceived enemies in the name of nationalism. Dink was prosecuted for his comments on the mass killings of Armenians by Turks in the early 20th century.
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