TURKEY: Press release on the observation mission to the trial of the assassination of Barrister Tahir Elçi

TURKEY: Press release on the observation mission to the trial of the assassination of Barrister Tahir Elçi

On 15 June 2022, a delegation from OIAD, the Geneva Bar Association and secretaries of the Paris Bar Conference attended the 5th hearing of the defendants in the Barrister Tahir Elçi assassination case.

Tahi Elçi was elected as the President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association in 2012 and had been working with national, international and non-governmental organisations especially on the the Kurdish resolution process (peace process) in Turkey and promoting the rights of the people in the Kurdish region, mainly in Diyarbakır.

On 28 November 2015, Tahir Elçi was shot dead while holding a press conference he had organised at the “four-legged minaret” in Diyarbakır to denounce the serious human rights violations committed during the curfews in Cizre, Sur, Silopi and Nusaybin, and to make a public appeal for the protection of cultural property and heritage during the conflict.

In September 2021, Ahmet Davutoğlu, former Prime Minister stated regarding the causes of Tahir Elçi’s death:

“This is an assassination plot against Tahir Elçi. The target is clear, it is Turkey. The second possibility is that, following the terrorists’ attack, our police officers fired shots in order to protect the population there and Tahir Elçi was caught in the crossfire. There will be no unsolved murders during our mandate.

However, the investigation has been bogged down for years, which is why the repeated requests for investigation and communication from the lawyers of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, who are parties to the proceedings, are essential for the judgment of this case.

At the end of the hearing on 15 June 2022, and in the presence of numerous international delegations, the Court deliberated on the applications submitted by the lawyers:

  1. The Court accepted the request for the handing over of the annexes of the 23 June 2017 “investigation report” produced after the investigation ordered by the Ministry of the Interior.
  2. The Court agreed that former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu would be heard as a witness at the next hearing.
  3. The Court rejected the hearing of the police witnesses
  4. The experts’ reply from the forensic institution is expected with regard to video surveillance cameras.
  5. The Court rejected the request to identify the authors of the emails regarding the involvement of the intelligence services, on the grounds that this could jeopardise their security.
  6. The Court rejected the request for a hearing of police officer Ahmet Soylu (pseudonym) and Aynur Güzel, who appear to have e-mailed the denunciation letters in the case file.

The case was adjourned to 23 November 2022 at 10:00. 

At the end of September 2022, the Diyarbakir Court suddenly informed the parties that, following a request by the Prosecutor, the hearing of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had been cancelled on the grounds that it would not contribute to the determination of the facts as it stood.

The President of the Diyarbakir Bar Association then requested the recusal of the presiding judge of the competent.

Observers note that the parties were not heard prior to the Court’s reversal and are concerned about the conducting of the 23 November 2022 hearing.

The observers demand a fair trial upholding the rights of the parties and the adversarial principle.

Read the press statement in turkish.

Read the full report.