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Dink murder trial judge detained over alleged Gülen links

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One of the judges hearing a trial of public officials implicated in the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was detained in his chambers on Friday during a break in proceedings on the grounds that he has links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Dink was shot to death by an ultranationalist youth in İstanbul’s Şişli district in 2007.

Judge Bünyamin Karakaş is a member of the panel of the judges hearing the trial of public officials accused of complicity in Dink’s murder, held at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court. He did not attend Friday’s hearing.

During a break in the proceedings, it was announced that the hearing would resume in two hours. It later became clear that police had raided Karakaş’s office and taken him into custody.

Fifty-five out of 192 judges and prosecutors for whom detention warrants have been issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on charges of membership in a terrorist organization serve at the courthouses in İstanbul.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Despite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, and the movement having denied the accusation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

More than 115,000 people have been purged from state bodies, in excess of 90,000 detained and over 39,000 have been arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian. Critics argue that lists of Gülen sympathizers were drawn up prior to the coup attempt.

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