Story No.: 511756
Restrictions: see script
Tape Number: EF07/0137
In Time: 11:12:50
Source: AP TELEVISION , TGRT
Dateline: Istanbul/Samsun - 3 Feb 2007/FILE
Date: 03/02/2007 21:27 PM
The Turkish media published photographs and video on Friday which appear to show police and military police officers posing with the alleged killer of an ethnic Armenian journalist.
The video appears to show 17-year-old nationalist Ogun Samast, holding out a Turkish flag and posing with officers, some in uniform.
Behind Samast a poster with another Turkish flag carries the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revered founder of modern Turkey: "The nation's land is sacred. It cannot be left to fate."
Samast is charged with the January 19 killing of Hrant Dink, a 52-year-old Armenian journalist who had angered Turkish nationalists with repeated assertions that the mass killings of Armenians around the time of World War I was genocide.
The mass killings and expulsions of some 600,000 to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915-1917 have been acknowledged by many historians and nations as the twentieth century's first genocide.
The Turkish media was outraged by the photographs and video.
"Turkey hit by scandalous aftershocks from Dink murder," read the headline of one newspaper.
"Samast (murder suspect) welcomed to prison with official ceremony," another one wrote, suggesting the images implied Samast was received as a hero by some members of the security forces.
But columnist Erdal Safak said the response across the nation to the incident demonstrated Turkey was split on the issue.
"The photos with Ogun Samast and the heroic treatment given to him show Turkish society is divided into two," Safak said.
"On one side there are people who are mourning and crying for the victim and on the other side there are people who see the (suspected) murderer as a symbol of Turkish nationalism and a saviour of his country," he suggested.
On Friday, the state-owned Anatolia news agency reported that four police officers in Samsun, where the photographs were taken, had been dismissed and four military police officers had been moved to other assignments.
It was not clear whether the eight officers were the ones posing with Samast.
Initial reports said the photographs were taken at a military police office at the bus station where Samast was captured, but military police said they were taken at a police station nearby.
A statement from military police headquarters urged the media to be cautious in publicising "attempts aimed at fraying the Turkish Armed Forces" and expressed concern about the motives of those who leaked the images.
More than 100,000 people marched at Dink's funeral, many of them chanting for Turkey to abolish a repressive article in the penal code used against many intellectuals, including Dink, who spoke openly on controversial topics.
The penal code makes insulting Turkey or the Turkish national character a crime.