PKK behind murder of Tahir Elci: militant

KURDPRESS NEWS AGENCY  – 7 June 2016 – A member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has claimed to have witnessed the murder of Diyarbakır Bar Association head Tahir Elci by another PKK militant during clashes between police and unknown perpetrators on Nov. 28, 2015.

“While I was recording, I saw [Ugur] Yakisir and [Mahsum] Gurkan, code-named ‘Hakki’ and ‘Bahoz’ come running and shooting toward [Tahir] Elci. At the exact moment, I saw Elci collapse,” the militant reportedly said in his testimony, which was included in an indictment that was accepted by a court of serious crimes in Diyarbakir. In his statement, the militant said he was recording video footage around the city’s famous Four-Legged Minaret because another militant asked him to, saying it would be sent to a PKK camp in the rural areas of Diyarbakir’s Lice district, Hurriyet daily said.

 “These terrorists approached our position after passing through the security forces. I took video footage of these terrorists’ positional defense upon instructions from ‘Senda,’” the militant said, referring to another PKK militant. The militant also claimed Elci’s murder was an act of “provocation” and the PKK’s intention was to blame the assassination on Turkish police.

 “I gave footage from the incident to a member of the organization code-named ‘Senda.’ He sent the footage to another member of the organization while they were conducting a video chat on a computer. I watched the footage many times,” he said, adding that he saw Elci being murdered by PKK militant Yakisir both with his own eyes and on the footage. The militant who testified, identified as Deniz A., surrendered to security forces on March 3. He faces up to 15 years of jail time for “membership in an armed terror organization.”

Two police officers were killed by two unknown perpetrators, one of whom later ran down a nearby side-street as Elci was shot dead on Nov. 28, 2015.

Elci had been facing jail time at the time for saying he did not view the PKK as a terrorist organization. The incident happened when a taxi carrying two suspected PKK militants was stopped by police in Sur. The police officers, Ahmet Ciftaslan and Cengiz Erdur, were killed by the militants while one of the militants ran away to the street where Elci and a number of lawyers were issuing a press statement to condemn special forces teams for damaging the base of Sur’s historic sites, including the area surrounding the Four-Legged Minaret. An expert report released on May 4 and prepared by a team of five experts concluded it was no longer possible to determine medically and physically how Elci was killed, based on the existing data.

The gendarmerie units who took statements down said the crime scene had been disturbed during clashes between PKK militants and Turkish security forces following the attack.