Turkey: Police on trial for Murdering prominent lawyer

ISTANBUL — Three police officers went on trial Wednesday in southeastern Turkey on the killing of a prominent attorney and human rights protector almost five decades back.

Lawyer Tahir Elci was fatally shot in the head after making a media announcement about the devastation of a historical mosque from the Sur district of Diyarbakir province. The officers have been charged with”causing death by future uncertainty” at Elci’s Nov. 28, 2015 departure and face potential prison sentences of 2 to six years.

The police officers, that aren’t in detention, attended the proceeding through video conference. From the stressed hearing, the Elci household’s attorneys contested the impartiality of the court and requested them to recuse themselves.

The hostilities came following a two-and-a-half-year lengthy ceasefire collapsed, reigniting the battle that started in 1984.

At precisely the exact same point as Elci was creating the media announcement, two suspected PKK militants shot and killed two police officers at a nearby road and ran toward the road where the attorney was talking, exchanging gunfire with different authorities.

Research team Forensic Architecture, which published a thorough analysis of Elci’s killing, said the slayings of these police officers and of course Elci ought to be considered different incidents.

The study team, based at the University of London, said its analysis disclosed that the shot that killed Elci might have come from among those police officers.

A fourth defendant on trial, an alleged member of the PKK that isn’t in custody, is accused of the deliberate killing of those 2 police officers, the most near intentional killing of Elci and”disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of their nation “

The 40-page indictment stated the bullet which killed Elci wasn’t discovered and thus the gun couldn’t be identified. It stated all three police officers in addition to the two militants had fired their guns.

Elci, 49, has been the heart of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. He received death threats and was to go on trial for”terror propaganda” after phoning the PKK an armed political movement as opposed to a terrorist organization in a tv program.

Elci was employed as a human rights attorney in southeastern Turkey, managing cases involving enforced disappearances and killings by security forces throughout the 1990s when the battle between Turkey and the PKK was at its bloodiest.

Justice for Tahir Elci is a glimmer of hope from a country where impunity is regrettably endemic.”

Human Rights Watch stated that there were”enormous hurdles” into a successful evaluation, including the alleged failure by researchers to gather evidence at the crime scene or to inspect the officers’ firearms. The police officers that are currently on trial were then just contested as witnesses.

“For five decades, the family members and friends of Tahir Elci have pushed to a successful evaluation of his murdering as well as also for his killers to be brought to justice,” Human Rights Watch deputy program manager Tom Porteous said. “Many in the human rights movement in Turkey and globally will be centered on if the behavior of the trial was made to show the full conditions of Elci’s killing or rather to attempt and exonerate the authorities at all price.”

The court adjourned till March 3.