Turkish prosecutor taken hostage in Istanbul

Armed group demands arrest of police officer who allegedly killed minor during 2013 anti-government protests.

    Special forces have been dispatched to the courthouse and the building was evacuated [Al Jazeera]
    Special forces have been dispatched to the courthouse and the building was evacuated [Al Jazeera]

    A Turkish prosecutor probing the politically sensitive death of a 14-year-old during 2013 anti-government protests has been taken hostage by an armed group at an Istanbul courthouse.

    Mehmet Selim Kiraz was investigating the killing of Berkin Elvan, who died in March last year after spending 269 days in a coma due to injuries inflicted by police in the mass protests of early summer 2013.

    Turkish media showed photos of an armed man holding a gun to the prosecutor's head while his hands were tied. 

    Special forces have been dispatched to the courthouse and the building evacuated.

    Negotiators are talking to hostage-takers, city police chief Selami Altinok said on Tuesday.

    Gunfire was heard at the courthouse, media reports said earlier.

    Armed men belonging to the leftist group, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C), threatened to kill Kiraz if the officer who shot Elvan was not arrested, setting a deadline of three hours for their demands to be met, according to a statement on the group's website.

    List of demands

    The hostage-takers released a list of demands for the release of the prosecutor, saying that the officer who shot Elvan must appear on TV and confess his guilt.

    The police officer must also be tried in a people's court, not in the state courts, the list read.

    Another demand was that the rights of those who attended rallies in solidarity with the Elvan family must be reinstated and that the prosecutions against them should be abolished.

    The group also demanded a safe exit of the armed men behind the hostage-taking, and the formation of a negotiation team involving prominent figures that the DHKP/C would choose.

    Sami Elvan, Berkin's father, said on Twitter in a video statement that he did not want to see the prosecutor hurt.

    "We only want justice. We do not want anybodhy to hurt. We don't want other mothers to cry [like we did]," Elvan said.

    The judicial process in the case of Berkin Elvan's death have been widely criticised in Turkey. 

    The Istanbul Police Department did not forward the identities of the policemen suspected of killing Berkin Elvan to the prosecutor's office until March, a year after the teenager's death.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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