Investigators visit scene of Elçi’s killing on third day

Investigators visit scene of Elçi’s killing on third day

Fevzi Kızılkoyun - Rifat Başaran / DİYARBAKIR
Investigators visit scene of Elçi’s killing on third day

AFP photo

Police officers visited the scene where Diyarbakır Bar Association head Tahir Elçi was killed on Nov. 28 a full two days after the incident occurred, collecting just 43 out of 83 pieces of evidence in the area after they were fired upon by unknown perpetrators.

The incident marks the second attack on the group investigating the site where Elçi was killed in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır’s Sur district.

Militants attacked the commission – which included Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor Ramazan Solmaz, deputy public prosecutor Gürkan Kütük, lawyers, crime scene investigators and bar representatives – with long-barreled weapons and hand-made explosives, shortly after they conducted their inspection at the crime scene. 

Elçi was killed on Nov. 28 during an armed conflict that erupted after the killing of two police officers by gunmen in the Sur district.

Some 43 pieces of evidence were collected by the officials. After the gun attacks, the officials had to leave without collecting 40 other pieces of evidence they had determined at the scene. 

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Diyarbakır deputy candidate Naci Sapan made examinations in the area to prepare a report to be delivered to the party’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Sapan told Hürriyet on Nov. 30 that children were playing with the evidence at the scene as many people passed by. 

He said Elçi’s blood was still on the ground amid the evidence and that no security measures had been taken in the area. 

The possibility of finding the evidence through a thorough investigation appears to have been lost, said Sapan. 

“The area should have been taken under protection after the incident. I have seen children playing with the numbers left to highlight the evidence,” he said.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Nov. 30 that the prosecutor’s office was fully working to shed light on the incident while also adding that they had difficulty in entering the area due to gunfire from the militants. 

“The crime scene investigation could not be accomplished smoothly by the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office. It couldn’t be finished yesterday either,” he said. “They did their work there but gunfire was opened by the terrorists again and their work was prevented.” 

Negligence investigation

In the meantime, the Interior Ministry has opened an investigation into claims of negligence in the killing of two police officers and Elçi. Two chief civil inspectors and two police chief inspectors who were assigned by the Interior Ministry have begun investigating the incident, it said. 

They are examining the possibility of negligence in an intervention against alleged outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants on the grounds that two police officers who were killed in the attack, Cengiz Erdur and Ahmet Çiftaslan, seemed to be unaware of the threat. 

The inspectors also questioned police chiefs and officials responsible for the area and operation. According to intelligence, PKK militant Mahsun Gürkan had been observation by police and was expected to arrive in the area with a taxi. 

Accordingly, all taxis were stopped in the area on the basis of the report, but video showed that police took no precautions in halting taxis, with two officers being shot dead as they casually approached one vehicle immediately before the death of Elçi.

Meanwhile, an arrest warrant has been issued for one suspect while authorities are attempting to identify another, the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office said. A taxi driver who brought the suspects to the scene has also been detained.

Elçi, a human rights activist and head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, was killed during clashes between police and unknown perpetrators on Nov. 28. 

An initial forensic report said Elçi was killed by a single bullet to the back of his neck fired from long range.

A curfew, imposed in Diyarbakır’s historical Sur district where the attack occurred, was lifted on Nov. 30. 

Elçi and accompanying lawyers had just finished issuing a press statement to condemn special forces teams for damaging the base of Diyarbakır’s famous Four-Legged Minaret when gun shots rang out.