- A damaged cartridge that might be from the bullet that killed Diyarbakır Bar Association head Tahir Elçi on Nov. 28 has been found at the scene of the murder, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Dec. 1.
“There are two shells and one damaged cartridge bullet among the evidence collected in the area. Ballistic investigations on this evidence are ongoing,” said Bozdağ following a visit to Elçi's widow, Türkan Elçi.
The news comes amid a row between Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and People's Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş over the perpetrators of Elçi's murder.
Police officers and prosecutors were only able to complete their work at the crime scene three days after the murder of Elçi.
Elçi was killed on Nov. 28 during an armed conflict that erupted after the killing of two police officers by gunmen in the Sur district.
Some 43 pieces of evidence were collected by the officials. After the gun attacks, the officials had to leave without collecting 40 other pieces of evidence they had determined at the scene.
Elçi was killed by the same groups that have been trying to obstruct the crime scene investigation for more than two days since the killing occurred, Davutoğlu claimed, speaking to reporters in Ankara on Dec. 1.
“The act was committed by those same power groups that have been trying to cover up the incident,” Davutoğlu said.
“Apparently, they have something to hide,” Davutoğlu said after an investigation team accompanied by bar heads from across Turkey was also prevented from entering the scene.
But Demirtaş said he was “certain” that Elçi was shot by a bullet fired from a police weapon.
“It would be very easy to find the perpetrator if the cartridge from the bullet [that killed Elçi] was found. As long as the cartridge is not found, it will be very difficult to find who fired it. From our point of view, it is very clear that at that moment, in that area and in that side street, no one apart from police officers was shooting. It is certain that the bullet that killed Tahir Elçi was fired by a police weapon. For which purpose and from which weapon can only be revealed through a fair investigation,” Demirtaş said late on Nov. 30.
The prime minister upbraided Demirtaş, for accusing the police of being an accomplice in the incident. “What proof does Demirtaş have to be accusing the state of murder?” he asked, arguing that accusing the police and the army over such incidents was counterproductive.
“Accusing the police who were chasing the attackers, without saying a word about the attackers themselves, is an attempt to cover up the murder,” Davutoğlu added.
Meanwhile, a proposal for a parliamentary inquiry into Elçi's Nov. 28 killing tabled by the HDP has been rejected by votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The session during which the HDP's proposal was presented witnessed high tension, as denunciations from AKP deputies prompted Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu, also a lawyer and human rights activist from Diyarbakır, to leave the rostrum. “Such intolerance in an environment where we are discussing a death is not a message to Turkey. I won't say anything else,” Tanrıkulu said, cutting his speech short.
US urges transparent probe into Elçi's death
The United States has also urged a quick and transparent investigation into the killing of Elçi.
“We urge a quick and transparent investigation to bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice,” U.S. State Department Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said in the department's daily press briefing in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 30.
“We're deeply saddened by the tragic death of Tahir Elçi on Saturday [Nov. 28]. He was a champion for all Turkish citizens who wish to live in peace and dignity,” Trudeau said, sending condolences to Elçi's family and friends as well as to those of police officers killed in the incident.