The slain journalist Güngör Arslan's lawyer, Cahit Çiftçi, is warning that the murder investigation must not proceed like that into the killing of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
Arslan, publisher and news editor of local news site Ses Kocaeli, was killed in an armed attack on Feb. 19 in the northwestern province of Kocaeli. He was investigating the relationship between Kocaeli municipality and the Haldız construction company. Prior to his death, he was repeatedly threatened and told to stop his investigation. Authorities failed to investigate any of these threats.
Ten people so far have been arrested in connection with Arslan’s murder, including a teenager named Ramazan Özkan accused of murdering the journalist. Those arrested also include a lawyer named Ersin Kurt who allegedly offered Özkan payment to kill Arslan and the alleged instigator of the attack, Burhan Polat.
Despite these arrests, Arslan’s family says authorities have not provided them with the defendant’s statements and other key materials. This prompted Çiftçi to warn that the case must proceed unimpeded, unlike that of Dink.
Dink was killed in 2007 in front of the offices of Agos, the Armenian newspaper of which he was editor in chief. Like Arslan, he received countless death threats prior to his killing due to his work on Armenian issues. His murder remains unsolved and is widely considered to be linked to organized crime and the deep state.
Çiftçi and the Arslan family say they have been shut out of the investigation.
“We took samples from the file. We requested information after the restriction decision, but our requests were rejected by the prosecutor's office,” he said at a press conference this week. He further said that these rejections could be protecting someone in the investigation file.
The lawyer said a “wall” had been built in front of him and Arslan’s family.
"They don't want us to have information. We expect support from the public on this issue,” he said.
He further stated that if such stonewalling continues, the family will apply to Turkey’s Constitutional Court for an investigation. In recent years, the top court has at times ruled against the government and in favor of human rights, even if those decisions go unimplemented.
For now, Çiftçi says the case is proceeding in such a manner so as to protect those being investigated. Statements are being hidden and suspects’ correspondences, phone calls, and activities are not being investigated. After lawyers arrested Kurt, for example, they failed to look further into who he was in communication with. Without a thorough investigation, Çiftçi said, the suspects cannot be prosecuted.
“We have serious doubts in the ongoing investigation,” he said.