DIYARBAKIR (K24) - In a press statement on Friday in front of the courthouse in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, lawyers of the Diyarbakir Bar Association demanded the arrest of the Turkish police officers who were shooting toward the direction the late president of the association Tahir Elci was standing.
The top Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elci was shot dead in the head last week when he was caught in a street shootout between plainclothes Turkish police officers and suspected PKK-affiliated armed youth in the historic Sur district of Diyarbakir.
Tahir Elci's widow Turkan Elci and at least 400 lawyers in robes observed a moment of silence in his memory before issuing a press statement in front of the courthouse where the police took tight security measures. Mrs Elci was seen to be looking for minutes at a picture of her deceased husband on a banner carried by lawyers.
The deputy head of the bar association Ahmet Ozmen told reporters that the case of the killing of Elci was "in effect under a de-facto secrecy order" although no such decision has judicially been taken. "We believe the prime suspect in the murder of our bar president is the police", said Ozmen. "Therefore the impartiality of the investigation by police in such a case can be questioned. Another independent committee outside the constabulary has to lead [the investigation]", he added.
He further noted that no police officer has so far been questioned, arrested or laid off in relation to the case. He demanded that all police wireless communication records that took place before and in the aftermath of the shootout be seized and be used as a part of the judicial investigation.
Ahmet Ozmen said that he had little confidence in the effectuality and speediness of the ongoing criminal and judicial investigation by the Turkish authorities into the killing that he named as "murder." Ozmen said the bar association has not been given a crime scene report by the police and the prosecutor.
The killing of the head of Diyarbekir Bar Association Tahir Elci sparked outrage among the Kurds and the opposition in Turkey and led to a series of condemnations by leaders, including the President of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini.
(Hesen Kako and Siddiq Eren contributed to this report from Diyarbakir)