Duvar English

A jailed mafia leader has said that he was ordered to kill Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, adding that he doesn’t remember the person who gave the order.

During the 104th hearing of the case into the murder of Dink in Istanbul, mafia leader Kürşat Yılmaz said that someone showed the picture of the journalist to him.

“İsmail Issız, Ömer Küçükyurt and Hüseyin Albay came to me for the murder. I don’t remember who but one of them showed me a picture of Dink and said, ‘Murder him too. We will protect you.’ I rejected them,” Yılmaz, who was sentenced to 66 years in prison over being a leader of a criminal organization, told Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court as a witness on Feb. 20.

“If my testimony was taken at the time, Hrant Dink would still be alive,” Yılmaz said.

Attending the hearing via the Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS), Yılmaz told the court that he was offered by followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen to be their mafia.

Dink, the editor-in-chief of Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, was shot dead at the age of 52 in broad daylight by an ultranationalist outside his office in central Istanbul on Jan. 19, 2007.

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

The case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.

Relatives and followers of the case have long claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.

A total of 76 suspects are tried in the case, including former police chief Ramazan Akyürek, journalist Ercan Gün and former provincial gendarmerie commander Ali Öz.