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London investigators say Kurdish human rights lawyer killed by police bullet

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London-based Forensic Architecture, a multidisciplinary research group that uses architectural techniques and technologies to investigate cases of state violence and violations of human rights around the world, announced this week that based on their research Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi was killed in 2016 as a result of a police bullet.

Forensic Architecture told Financial Times on Friday that Elçi was killed by one of two policemen during a chaotic firefight that erupted around him as he called for peace in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakır, which was experiencing long curfews at the time as a result of counterterrorism operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In a 25-minute video the researchers show how, shortly before the lawyer was hit, two members of the PKK’s youth wing shot and killed two policemen in central Diyarbakır. They fled past Mr. Elçi and shot at police monitoring the press event, who returned fire. The militants escaped unharmed, but Elçi was struck.

Based on an analysis of 40 gunshots, Forensic Architecture ruled out the possibility that the PKK youths killed the lawyer as well as a shot by a long-range weapon.

The London group concluded that only two of the five policemen at the scene could have fired the fatal shot, FT reported. Forensic Architecture also criticized police for failing to administer first aid to the lawyer as he lay bleeding and for the ineffective investigation that followed.

Elçi was a Kurdish human rights lawyer who defended victims of human rights violations at both the domestic and international level.

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