Slain prosecutor Kiraz took significant steps in Gezi protesters’ cases

Slain prosecutor Kiraz took significant steps in Gezi protesters’ cases

İsmail Saymaz ISTANBUL
Slain prosecutor Kiraz took significant steps in Gezi protesters’ cases

DHA Photo

Istanbul prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, who was killed in an operation against his two captors late on March 31, had made considerable progress in the cases of protesters wounded and killed during the Gezi Park protests in the summer of 2013.

One of Kiraz’s most recent activities was to demand the improvement of footage taken during incidents in order to reveal the faces of police officers who fired tear gas canisters at Gezi protester Okan Özçelik, who later lost sight in one of his eyes. On March 18, Kiraz demanded that the Gendarmerie Criminal Laboratory “improve the footage captured to help identify the police officer who used the tear gas gun” against Özçelik during the Gezi protests.

The prosecutor also sent the footage used in the case of Gezi victim Berkin Elvan to the criminal laboratory to identify the police officers in the scene.

After Kiraz’s demand, the expert report revealed that the police did not shoot the tear gas at the necessary 45-degree angle and instead directly targeted Özçelik. The expert’s report also revealed the helmet numbers of the police officers involved in the incident, upon Kiraz’s demand.

Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol of the outlawed far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took Kiraz, 46, hostage in his office. The captors were killed in a shootout, while Kiraz died at the hospital from sustained injuries.

The perpetrators’ demands included a live confession by the police officers suspected of killing 15-year-old Elvan, a prosecution of the officers responsible in a “people’s court,” the acquittal of all people being tried for participation in solidarity rallies for Elvan, as well as free passage away from the courthouse.

Elvan died on March 11, 2014, 269 days after he was sent into a coma after he was struck by a tear-gas canister during the Gezi protests. Kiraz was appointed as the prosecutor of the controversial case six months ago.

Meanwhile, the neighbors of the Kiraz family said that the prosecutor was a humble man who had to work as a tailor when he went to high school.

“He was a very dignified person. He never acted like a prosecutor; he was very humble. We are very sad. I would not be so sad even if it happened to my father,” said neighbor Ferhat Taşın.

As part of the Berkin Elvan case, Kiraz demanded the names of the 21 police officers who were on duty in the area where Elvan was shot on the head. He demanded that the police determine the identities of the three police officers allegedly involved in shooting of Elvan with a tear gas canister.

On May 31, 2013, Volkan Kesanbilici, 38, a shop manager in Istanbul, was shot with a plastic bullet in his eye and lost his sight. In this case, Kiraz sent the plastic bullets to a criminal laboratory, after which an expert report stated that the bullets “could be fatal” and police should not directly target heads or faces when using them.