Lawyers of the family of slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink voiced hope Tuesday that the court handling the case would dig deeper into the murder and uncover the alleged role of security officials.
The legal team has been pushing for months -- so far without success -- for the indictment of security officials on the grounds that the police knew as early as 2006 of plans to kill Dink, but failed to act in what it says was "almost an intentional negligence."
The 52-year-old Dink, a prominent member of Turkey's tiny Armenian minority, was gunned down on January 19 in a busy Istanbul street.
"We asked the court to expand the investigation... and collect evidence in various fields," attorney Fethiye Cetin said of the first hearing in the trial of 18 suspects, which began behind closed doors Monday.
"The court accepted our demands," she said. "We think this is a positive attitude."
The three key defendants, all from the northern city of Trabzon, are the self-confessed hitman, 17-year-old Ogun Samast, and the alleged ultra-nationalist masterminds of the assassination, Yasin Hayal and Erhan Tuncel, both 26. The indictment says Tuncel was a police informer who twice told officials last year that Hayal was plotting to kill Dink, but deliberately concealed the fact that someone else would pull the trigger because Tuncel himself was part of the plot.
Hayal was no stranger to the police either: he had served 11 months for the 2004 bombing in Trabzon of a McDonald's restaurant, in which six people were injured, to protest against the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Cetin maintained that Hayal and Tuncel's testimonies before the court Monday "confirmed that the state is responsible for this murder." The trial is held behind closed doors because the alleged gunman is a minor.
Although Dink campaigned for reconciliation, nationalists hated him for calling the massacres of Armenians under Ottoman rule during World War I genocide, a label that Turkey fiercely rejects. He had written in his bilingual weekly Agos about receiving death threats, but the authorities failed to take measures to grant him special protection.
Trabzon's governor and police chief were removed from office after the murder. Several policemen were suspended after a leaked video showed them posing with Samast for "souvenir pictures" following his capture. But no official has faced judicial action so far.