Tahir Elci was a Kurdish human rights lawyer who advocated for peace between the Turkish state and PKK. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elci likely died of gunshots from police officers, an investigation commissioned by UK-based Open Democracy reported on Friday.
"Police officers C and D can clearly be seen firing in the direction of Elci, and should be considered suspects in his killing," stated the report. "According to our analysis, one of these two officers likely fired the fatal shot that killed Elci."
The non-profit organization commissioned by Goldsmiths research group Forensic Architecture to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to provide the most comprehensive, multi-dimensional investigation of the events as they played out.
"Seconds earlier, police officer A also had a line of fire towards Elci, though partly obstructed and at a greater distance. He should also be considered and questioned as a suspect," the report added.
Tahir Elci was born in 1966 in Cizre. He was working to help end the decades-long conflict between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Turkish state.
He was killed at a press conference on November 28, 2015, while appealing for calm in Diyarbakir (Amed).
The government blamed the PKK and its affiliates for his death. The report did not rule out the possibility of Elci dying of crossfire between police and the PKK.
"It is quite possible that the killing was an unintentional consequence of the firefight. However, the way it unfolded, and Elci’s place within the long history of conflict in that region, make it inevitable that questions and suspicions will always surround the incident," it stated.
The report disproved a number of claims such as the police using blanks or Elci being killed by long-range weapons such as rifles carried by the PKK.
"This process of elimination suggested that one of the police officers who fired their weapons during the incident could have been responsible for the fatal shot," the report stated.
"A thorough, effective and transparent investigation by the public prosecutor is urgently necessary, not only to meet and do justice to those questions, but to discharge the most basic responsibility of the Turkish state towards its citizens.
Elci's death and outrage that ensued led to military curfews in Sur and other Kurdish areas until March 2016.
More than 200 people died during the siege, according to humanitarians and NGOs. Buildings which were thousands of years old were leveled.