The head of Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) is alleged to have removed critical evidence that could have helped to identify the killer of a prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer, according to a special report by Bold Medya published on Wednesday.
Tahir Elci, the Diyarbakır Bar Association Chairman, a prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer, and rights activist was shot dead in Sur district of Diyarbakir, south-eastern Turkey in November 2015 as he was making a statement calling for an end to violence between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to the report which provided the testimony of Mehtap Altug, an ATK staff member, a DNA sample belonging to a male individual was removed on the orders of Yalcin Buyuk, the ATK chairman.
Buyuk also ordered the removal of the evidence from the National Judiciary Informatics System, the official database of Turkey’s judiciary.
Three cartridges collected by the forensics team at the crime scene narrowed down the possible suspects to three police officers who were at the scene. However, lacking Elci’s DNA sample, the investigators could not pin down the assailant with a ballistics inquiry since it remains unclear which bullet took Elci’s life.
Altug’s testimony alleges that Buyuk tampered with crucial evidence with the help of specialist Arif Bingol and deputy chair Omer Muslumanoglu, and the trio still holds their posts at the institution.
The government blamed the PKK and its affiliates for Elci’s death.
In February, Forensic Architecture, a non-profit London-based organization released a report on the incident. After reconstructing a multi-dimensional model of the murder, the report concluded that the bullet that caused Elci’s death must have been fired by one of the three police officers who were at the scene.