ISTANBUL A prominent Kurdish lawyer gunned down in southeastern Turkey appeared to have been shot by a policeman who was firing on suspects fleeing the scene of an attack on fellow officers, a deputy from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition said on Monday.
Diyarbakir city chief prosecutor Ramazan Solmaz stated prosecutors and police forensic teams operating at the site of Elci’s killing were forced to flee on Monday when militants opened fire and threw explosives at an armored police automobile.
Saturday’s killing of Tahir Elci, a lawyer and human rights activist, and Monday’s short incident underlined tensions in the mostly Kurdish region that have grown since a ceasefire with Kurdistan Workers Celebration (PKK) militants collapsed in July.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Elci might have been caught in the crossfire between police and the militants.
Meral Danis Bestas, a deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), sent an e-mail to the interior minister soon after viewing a video of the incident which took spot in a narrow street throughout a shootout in between police and militants.
In the video, plain-clothing police standing close to Elci are noticed firing automatic pistols at gunmen fleeing the scene of the attack in Diyarbakir, the region’s biggest city.
ATTACK ON POLICE
“The footage shows a figure operating in the direction of Tahir Elci and the police opening fire in the path of that individual,” Bestas wrote. “A plain-clothes policeman dressed in brown is shown opening fire in the path of Tahir Elci and then he appears as if to see whether or not the cameras are filming him.”
“The autopsy report and the camera footage point to Elci dying as a outcome of a police bullet,” Bestas mentioned.
Shortly before Elci’s killing, two police officers had been shot dead after they stopped a “suspicious automobile” in a nearby street in what Solmaz, the chief prosecutor, stated was an attack by PKK militants.
President Tayyip Erdogan, who founded the governing AK Celebration, has vowed to destroy Kurdish militant fighters since a ceasefire collapsed in July, reigniting a conflict in which some 40,000 men and women have died because it began in 1984.
The HDP, which is represented in parliament and has called for an end to the violence, said Elci had complained of death threats.
“Tahir Elci…was the target of some deep structures which are recognized to have carried out unsolved killings and which these days give open help to the AKP government,” it said.
Unsolved political killings have been frequent at the height of the conflict amongst the state and the PKK in the 1990s.
Elci was facing trial for saying the banned PKK was not a terrorist organization, as it is described by Turkey, the European Union and United States. But he had also condemned PKK violence.
The autopsy showed one bullet had penetrated the back of Elci’s neck. The driver of the taxi in which the suspects arrived at the scene was detained and an arrest warrant was issued for one identified suspect, the prosecutor said.
(Editing by Nick Tattersall)