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Murderer of HDP employee was not acting alone, lawyer says at first hearing

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Lawyer Türkan Aslan Ağaç, who represents the family of Deniz Poyraz, a young woman who was killed in an attack at the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) office in western Turkey in June, said assailant Onur Gencer was not acting alone, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.

Gencer, the 27-year-old assailant who admitted to killing HDP employee Deniz Poyraz, 38, turned himself in to the police and was arrested by a criminal court of peace the next day.

Gencer faces aggravated life on charges of premeditated murder and an additional seven years on charges of violating the privacy of a workplace and damaging buildings and property used by a political party.

Gencer’s indictment, drafted by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, has been accepted by the İzmir 6th High Criminal Court.

The indictment says Gencer confessed to the murder on the day of his arrest and that prosecutors have found no connection between Gencer and any terrorist organization.

Lawyer Ağaç said the investigation was not handled properly in order to cover up the accomplices and claimed that the murder was organized. She also referred to the luxurious lifestyle Gencer enjoyed despite earning a modest salary.

Ağaç said the court did not look into red flags showing the assailant had the backing of powerful people, such as his Instagram posts from Syria featuring him with an assault rifle, or his stays at luxurious hotels or his purchase of the assault rifle.

Lawyer İmdat Ataş, another attorney representing the Poyraz family, said the prosecution only analyzed 23 of more than 72,000 Instagram messages posted by the assailant.

Ataş said 584 messages, 2,160 calls, more than 3,000 web browser search history items, 928 location history items, 231 emails, 1,108 videos, 439 voice recordings and 12,183 web history items on Gencer’s phone were not assessed on the grounds that they were not relevant to the attack.

The hearing saw multiple disruptions, according to Turkish media, as law enforcement officers’ lenient attitude toward Gencer and his provocative gestures sparked indignation among Poyraz’s relatives.

Gencer reportedly insulted Deniz’s younger sister, calling her a “whore,” and rushed toward the family, getting past the officers assigned to guard him, starting another altercation before the trial was adjourned until January 24.

It has emerged that Gencer previously posted photos on social media making an ultranationalist hand gesture associated with the Grey Wolves, a far-right paramilitary group with close ties to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as their election partner, the MHP, have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 18-year rule.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

On Tuesday an assailant carrying a gun and a knife attacked staff at a HDP building in İstanbul’s Bahçelievler district, injuring a party employee.

“I will kill you all,” the assailant shouted, according to media reports.

He was later taken into custody by the police.

The HDP released a statement on Twitter, saying it was not an isolated incident and was similar to the atack that claimed the life of Poyraz.

“These attacks can’t intimidate us. Our people give them the strongest answer by standing behind their party, and they will continue to do so,” tweeted the HDP.

The murder of Poyraz came at a time of increased pressure on the party as it faces a closure case on terrorism charges.

Hundreds of HDP politicians including two former co-chairs are behind bars on politically motivated charges.

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