A year without Tahir Elçi

It has been almost a year since lawyer Tahir Elçi was murdered. He was the chair of Diyarbakir Bar Association and a human rights defender who devoted his life to solving the unidentified murders. The investigation file was issued months after the murder and the investigating prosecutor of the case had been changed for 3 times. Still, there is no progress in the investigation.

On November 28, 2015, Tahir Elçi was murdered, when he was making a statement to the press urging to put an end to the ongoing clashes. Since then, nothing is the same both in Diyarbakir and Turkey. 

Shortly before the murder, Tahir Elçi was targeted because of the statement he made in a TV show. An indictment was issued against him on the charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and he was detained. Speaking to Agos about a month before the murder, Elçi said that the pro-government media organs had been targeting him and he was receiving death threats, and he also noted that judiciary, with the investigation against him, has joined the lynching campaign. After the peace negotiations were ended, Tahir Elçi had always been urging the both sides to maintain the dialog, but he spoke as the following about the campaign against him: “The fact that they are pushing me around so aggressively indicates that the government has lost temper. This is a really dangerous situation.”

Crime scene investigation was carried out 4 months after the murder, since the clashes were still going on. It also took months to issue the report concerning this investigation. Still, there is no progress in the investigation. Diyarbakir Bar Association Chair Ahmet Özmen states that there is no effective investigation.

Stating that they cannot access the whole of the investigation file though there is no confidentiality order, Özmen said that they also haven't received any response to their written demands: “We provided the security footage of a restaurant near the crime scene. It has been a year since we have given this evidence, but they still haven't done anything about it. This alone reveals the fact that there is no effective and fast investigation process.”

Three prosecutors in a year

On the other hand, the purge in the judiciary after the coup attempt on July 15 has also affected the investigation on Tahir Elçi murder. Özmen said that the investigating prosecutor of Elçi case has been assigned to cases of coup attempt, leaving Elçi case unattended: “On October, the investigating prosecutor was reassigned and the case was assigned to another prosecutor, who said that he has to examine the file, since he knows nothing about it. On November, he was also reassigned. We met with the newly-assigned prosecutor, who also said that he has to examine the file.”

Tahir Elçi devoted his life to preventing impunity in unidentified murders. His case may turn into an unidentified murder, which is the major concern. However, Ahmet Özmen said that they will absolutely anything for preventing this.