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Who killed the lawyer? Public Prosecutor’s Office asks forensic institution for a reviewed report on Tahir Elci’s murder

Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office asked the Institution of Forensic Medicine for a new account on Tahir Elci’s murder, on Friday, following an international report that questioned if the killer of the former President of Diyarbakir Bar Association could be a policeman, T24 News portal said.

Previously, the institution was unable to come to a definitive conclusion regarding who could have been responsible for the fatal shot.

Elci, a human rights advocate and chairman of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, who was urging the government and Kurdish rebels to keep clashes away from civilian areas, was assassinated during a press conference in front of the historical four-columned minaret in Diyarbakir on 28th November 2015.

The press conference was organized amid armed conflicts taking place between outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish government forces in southeastern Turkey after the authorities declared to end the peace process which had begun in 2013.

Initial reports of the incident, by the state-run Anadolu news agency and subsequently other Turkish media outlets, blamed two members of PKK’s youth wing (YDG-H). Police was blamed for taking too long to react to the assassination. However, after studying video footage of the event and first-hand accounts of what happened, suspicion moved to police officers who were stationed around Tahir Elci and the attendees of the press conference.

Apparent procrastination and crucial mistakes in the official investigation, including the loss of potentially critical evidence by not securing and processing the crime scene immediately, and only collecting minimal evidence two days later, caused the inquiry to be described as a “smack of a cover-up” by Amnesty International.

A year after the death of Elci, the Diyarbakır Bar Association asked Forensic Architecture to examine the evidence shared by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to the re-examination, including 3D modeling of the incident, Forensic Architecture declared that the two YDG-H militants partially obstructed the line of fire, which could mean that one of the three police officers could have fired the fatal shot.

The research suggests that the shot from a long-range weapon is improbable as auditory evidence suggests otherwise. The report also claims that according to the video footage of the murder, “Elci’s body lay on the ground unattended; nobody in the vicinity attempted to check his condition or give him medical attention for at least 13 minutes”.

According to T24, after the Forensic Architecture’s report was submitted, the Prosecutor’s Office asked the institute whether new findings could be reached, and hence the Institution of Forensic Medicine is now expected to review its previous report according to new evidence acquired.

Forensic Architecture (FA) is a multidisciplinary research group based at Goldsmiths, University of London. On behalf of human rights organizations, international offices and prosecutors, and political and environmental justice groups, FA uses architectural techniques and technologies to investigate violations of human rights and cases of state violence around the world.

The list of organizations that FA has worked with includes UN Special Rapporteur for Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Diyarbakır Bar Association in Turkey Releases Report on Former Chairman Murder

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