Who shot the prosecutor, who benefited from his silence?
There still has not been a forensic report made public about the killing of prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz on March 31 during an act of terror by the militants of the outlawed Revolutionary People Liberation Party and Front (DHKP-C) as they raided his office in Istanbul’s Justice House.
Kiraz was killed at the end of eight hours of captivity, of which the last six hours saw negotiations with the assailants, when shots were heard from within his office as police clashed with the DHKP-C militants. President Tayyip Erdoğan was the first one to make a statement while he was still in Slovenia, saying Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok had told him on the phone the prosecutor had three bullet wounds in the head and two in the abdomen.
He was taken to the nearby Florence Nightingale Hospital but could not be saved. Dr. Çavlan Çiftçi of Istanbul Bilim University took part in the operation to save him. He said afterwards Kiraz’s heartbeat and breathing had already stopped by the time he was brought in to the hospital and all their efforts to bring him back to life had failed.
Health sources say the police asked for an immediate transfer of the body to Forensic Medicine for the burial of Kiraz. Reportedly bullets removed from his body were taken there in a separate bag by the police. That means it would be extremely difficult (especially in such a short time, since he was to be buried by noon on April 1) to determine details like entry angles and shooting distance, since his chest had already been opened in the hospital.
Referring to police sources, Turkish media reported on April 2 the bullets were from one of the terrorists’ 7.65 French-made pistol, while none were from the police officers trying to get into the room while clashing with the two DHKP-C militants for a couple of minutes. There has been no official document revealed about the ballistics report, just as there has not been one on the autopsy.
Yet, there is no doubt prosecutor Kiraz was killed in the terrorist action by the DHKP-C militants, regardless of the questions of the opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on whether the Turkish police did everything it could to the best of its ability to save the prosecutor’s life.
One of the militants’ demands was the immediate arrest of the three police officers who were allegedly involved in the death of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy killed during the Gezi wave of protests in 2013 as a result of a gas canister fired by the police forces to disperse the crowd.
But it was Kiraz who actually made the first move some two months ago to open a probe against those policemen soon after he assumed the investigation, unlike the prosecutors covering that file before him. Therefore, if he had not been killed, he would have probably been the one to arrest those policemen if they had played a role in the death of the boy. Perhaps that’s why the boy’s father, Sami Elvan, did everything possible to cooperate with the negotiation team to convince the militants to let the prosecutor go.
And Elvan was not the only critical case related to Gezi which prosecutor Kiraz had focused on. It was reported by Radikal on April 1 that his last move before being raided by the militants was to urge the Istanbul police in writing about the identity of a policeman with a face-covering helmet who shot and blinded another Gezi protester.
In short, Kiraz was appointed only a few months ago to handle the Gezi files and he had already taken important steps to lift the veil over the role of the police in the use of excessive force against the demonstrators.
It is not clear who will take over the Gezi files after Kiraz’s murder and if the new prosecutor will focus on the Gezi files with a similar enthusiasm and determination as he did, which may be an embarrassment for both the Istanbul police and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government as the country heads for June 7 elections.
It may be clear who were made pull the trigger to silence prosecutor Kiraz, but it is open to speculation that who will benefit from his silence.