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Wife hopes for fair treatment in third hearing of Kurdish lawyer’s murder case

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Türkan Elçi has expressed hope that she doesn’t go through the same injustice she faced in the first hearing of a trial concerning the killing of her husband Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer who was shot dead at a 2015 press conference in Diyarbakır, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

Tahir Elçi, a human rights lawyer and then-chair of the bar association in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır, was shot dead with a single bullet to the head while giving a speech in front of the city’s historic “four-legged minaret” on November 28, 2015.

According to local media reports, Türkan Elçi was prevented from making a statement after the presiding judge issued a warning to the Elçi family and their lawyers, saying they were disrupting the proceedings and threatening them with removal from the courtroom during the first hearing in the trial on October 21, 2020.

“In the first hearing we attended, five years after [Elçi’s death], we were threatened with expulsion from the courtroom. As one of the victims, it [this treatment] was too much for me to bear. An MRI I had due to persistent headaches afterward found minor bleeding in the brain,” she said in a tweet.

Elçi added that she hoped she didn’t go through the same things during the third hearing on Wednesday.

The Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office named three police officers — Mesut Sevgi, Fuat Tan and Sinan Tabur — in addition to Uğur Yakışır, an alleged member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as suspects in the indictment accepted by the court five years after the murder of Elçi.

The three officers are charged with “causing death by culpable negligence,” which carries a prison sentence of two to six years, while Yakışır is charged with “murdering Tahir Elçi and two police officers [who died on the same day], attempting to destroy the unity of the state and possession of a firearm.” Prosecutors demand multiple life sentences and an additional 45 years in prison for Yakışır.

Investigating cases of state violence and human rights violations through architectural evidence and 3D technology, Goldsmith research group Forensic Architecture refuted the claims that the PKK member had killed Elçi.

Elçi’s lawyers accuse the Turkish police and the judicial authorities of hiding a 13-second segment of video footage captured by police cameras that allegedly shows the moment Elçi was shot.

Elçi had briefly been detained a month earlier on charges of disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization. He had been receiving death threats after saying on a TV program that he did not view the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, as a terrorist organization.

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