An Istanbul court Friday jailed another man over the January 19 murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, bringing to nine the number of suspects arrested in the investigation, Anatolia news agency reported.
The court ordered Veysel Toprak to prison pending judgment, but it was not immediately clear what charges were brought against him. Media reports have described Toprak as a close friend of one of the most prominent suspects, Yasin Hayal, who allegedly provided the gunman with money and a pistol to kill Dink.
The suspected assailant, 17-year-old Ogun Samast, a jobless secondary school graduate, has confessed to gunning down Dink outside the office of his bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos in downtown Istanbul. Prosecutors have yet to pen their indictment over the murder, believed to have been committed with ultra-nationalist motives.
The 52-year-old Dink, a leading member of Turkey's tiny Armenian community, called the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire genocide, a label that Ankara fiercely rejects.
Interior ministry inspectors are looking into allegations that the police had received a tip-off last year about a plot to kill Dink being organized in the northern city of Trabzon, from where most suspects come, but did not follow up on the intelligence.
In a related development, a group of activists invited prosecutors to press charges against them on Friday in a protest against a law that restricts free speech and has been used to prosecute intellectuals. Five members of the small Powerful Turkey Party stood in front of a prosecutor at a courthouse and repeated statements by Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk, Dink and other intellectuals that were used as evidence to prosecute them under Article 301 of Turkey's penal code, which bans insults to Turkish identity.
The group, including party leader Tuna Beklevic, then asked the prosecutor to file charges against them. Prosecutors would have to investigate Beklevic and his friends before opening any lawsuit, and none of the activists were arrested. More members of the party, which has just a few thousand adherents in a country of 70 million, plan to conduct a similar act of civil disobedience next week.
Article 301 makes denigrating Turkish identity a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.