A Turkish heavy panel court on Tuesday sentenced the assailant of a June 2021 attack on the country’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in the western province of İzmir to life in prison without parole, Bianet reported.
The attacker, Onur Gencer, stormed into HDP’s provincial office in the early hours and killed 20-year-old Deniz Poyraz, an employee who was alone in the building. Gencer was arrested shortly after and his Instagram posts showed that he spent some time in Syria and was training himself at a shooting range in İzmir.
The HDP objected to the judicial authorities treating the incident as the act of a single man, saying that the attack was in fact planned by the government and the assailant’s intent was to kill more people.
HDP members and MPs, as well as representatives of civil society organisations followed Tuesday’s trial which took place under heavy police presence. The judge did not allow attorneys without official authorisation to attend to the hearing, while Poyraz’s family refused to enter the courtroom after they were ordered to pass through X-Ray scanners.
Özkan Yücel, the former head of İzmir Bar Association, called what happened at court “a theatre play”. “This was a political murder committed to continue the climate of fear. We would say that if we were allowed to enter the courtroom,” Yücel said.
Mithat Sancar, the co-chair of the HDP, delivered a speech before the hearing started. “Since the moment this incident happened, systematic efforts were made to prevent the truth come out during the investigation phase,” he said. He added that the attack was carried out against Turkey’s third largest party in terms of parliamentary seats in Turkey’s third largest city and could not be the act of a single man.
“This situation alone shows that this murder was a political and organised act. But during the investigation phase, the police did everything possible to hide all links and to show this massacre as an isolated event,” he said.
At the end of the final hearing of the trial, the court sentenced Gencer to life in prison without parole for “premeditated intentional killing”, four years in prison for “damaging property”, two years in prison for “violating immunity of residence” and three years in prison for “violating firearms law”.
Though the court announced its verdict today, there are still many questions left unanswered surrounding the attack, as is the case for almost all political murders which have happened in Turkey.