The murder case of Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elçi has been postponed to 6 March 2024, eliciting sharp criticism from legal professionals and civil society leaders.
The 8th hearing of the high-profile case of the slain Diyarbakır Bar Association President and prominent lawyer, who was killed in Diyarbakır (Amed) on 28 November 2015, was held at the Diyarbakır 10th High Criminal Court on Wednesday.
🔴 A Turkish court's postponement of the Tahir Elçi murder case to 6 March 2024 has drawn sharp criticism, with legal representatives expressing concerns over ignored evidence and unfulfilled requests.#TahirElçi | #JusticeForALL | #TwitterKurds
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) November 30, 2023
Elçi was shot while holding a press conference to criticise curfews imposed on predominantly Kurdish areas.
Nahit Eren, current president of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, expressed dissatisfaction with the court’s proceedings. “Our requests made during the previous eight hearings were partially met, but this time all requests were denied,” he stated, questioning the court’s commitment to uncovering the full truth of the case.
Lawyer for the Elçi family, Gamze Yalçın İlboğa, highlighted the inadequate handling of evidence, explaining, “Empty cartridges and bullet cores were not collected at the crime scene,” indicating a serious flaw in the investigative process. Additionally, Mahsuni Karaman, another lawyer representing the family, pointed out discrepancies in police footage. “The 12-second video recording is edited,” he stated, suggesting potential evidence manipulation.
The decision to conclude the evidence collection phase was critiqued by Erinç Sağkan, president of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB). “The court, with its decision today, has clearly indicated that the evidence collection process is over,” he said, signalling a hasty move towards the trial’s conclusion without thorough examination.
The case has drawn significant attention, not only for its impact on the Kurdish community but also as a symbol of the challenges faced in ensuring police accountability and judicial transparency in Turkey. Lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz emphasised the broader implications of the case: “This case will never end here… All our requests that were rejected in this court will return here as decisions of violation of the right to life by the European Court of Human Rights,” he stated, indicating the potential for international legal repercussions.
Meral Danış Beştaş, deputy group co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP), offered a forceful critique of the judiciary’s handling of the case, especially regarding the protection of police officers. “If the murderer hadn’t been a police officer, that murderer would have been brought before justice a million times over by now,” she asserted.