TURKEY

Turkish court frees 4 suspects in Hrant Dink case

TURKISH COURT FREES 4 SUSPECTS IN HRANT DINK CASE

An Istanbul court on Thursday ordered the release of four suspects in a murder probe into the killing of prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in 2007.

Istanbul 14th Criminal Court said former lieutenant colonel Atilla Gucluoglu, former captain Murat Bayrak and non-commissioned officers Birol Ustaoglu and Yuksel Avan were free to go.

The court said the four men were being released due to "contradictory statements" given by a man convicted of shooting the journalist on an Istanbul street in January 2007.

Dink, editor-in-chief of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, was killed outside his office in a case that has stirred intrigue and conspiracy theories.

Ogun Samast was jailed for 23 years in 2011 for the killing. Samast, who was aged 17 at the time of the murder, claimed he shot Dink for "insulting Turkishness". Although Samast is the only person to be jailed for the murder so far, speculation about the involvement of others has persisted.

The court on Thursday also said there was a "lack of verified connection" between the four accused and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

In April, FETO -- involved in last year's deadly July 15 coup attempt -- was officially tied to the Dink case.

FETO leader Fetullah Gulen, former prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, the former editor-in-chief of the Zaman newspaper Ekrem Dumanli as well as journalists Adem Yavuz Arslan, Faruk Mercan and Ercan Gun were charged with "intentional killing" and "attempting to remove the constitutional order".

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