Dec 14 2017

No justice yet for 14-year-old Berkin Elvan killed by police in 2013

A Turkish court ruled police officer Fatih Dalgalı, who the prosecutors say killed 14-year-old Berkin Elvan during 2013 Gezi protests, will be tried without arrest.

Elvan was hit by a gas canister on June 16, 2013 near his home in Okmeydanı neighbourhood of Istanbul, and died in the hospital after spending 269 days in coma.

Investigation took over three years to identify Dalgalı by using face recognition technology from available security camera recordings, Turkish newspaper Evrensel wrote.

Elvan family’s lawyers have filed their first request for the arrest of Dalgalı, who is charged with voluntary manslaughter, on the first hearing on April 6.

Court has rejected victim family’s request once again, allowing Dalgalı to testify via video link from the eastern city of Van, where he was assigned as a police officer after Istanbul.

File: Police use tear gas after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during last year's anti-government protests, in Istanbul on March 12, 2014. AFP/BULENT KILIC
File: Police use tear gas after the funeral of Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old boy who died from injuries suffered during last year's anti-government protests, in Istanbul on March 12, 2014. AFP/BULENT KILIC

A lawyer for Elvan family, Çiğdem Akbulut was quoted by Turkish mainstream newspaper Hürriyet as saying the security camera footage showed other police officers firing five more gas canisters where Elvan was shot in the head, preventing bystanders to help him.

While the court rejected to remand Dalgalı, it ordered 20 police officers who worked at Dalgalı’s unit at the time to testify in court, Hürriyet said.

The case is adjourned to Feb. 27, 2018.

 

 

The Berkin Elvan case had so far changed six prosecutors and was met with resistance from the police department which failed to respond prosecutor’s repeated requests to identify the police officers who were on duty in Okmeydanı at the time.

11 police officers who were interrogated in early 2015 by the previous prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, have said they were either not there during the incident, or did not fire gas canisters and do not remember who did, Qatar-based Al Jazeera’s Turkish service reported at the time.

Kiraz was taken hostage in March 2015 in his office at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse by outlawed Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) militants, who demanded the prosecutor to reveal publicly the policy officers responsible for Elvan’s death.

Berkin Elvan's father Sami Elvan was quoted by British newspaper The Guardian as saying: “My son died but I don’t want any other person to die. The prosecutor must be released. Blood cannot be washed away with blood.”

But Kiraz and the gunmen were killed after a shootout with the police unit storming in his office.

Berkin Elvan's father Sami Elvan marches in Istanbul on March 7, 2015 as thousands of people marched to mark the first anniversary of the death of the youngest victim of the Gezi Park protests. AFP/OZAN KOSE
Berkin Elvan's father Sami Elvan marches in Istanbul on March 7, 2015 as thousands of people marched to mark the first anniversary of the death of the youngest victim of the Gezi Park protests. AFP/OZAN KOSE

Last month, a separate court awarded damages to an academic who lost an eye after he was hit by a police teargas canister during 2013 Gezi Park protests.

The court’s decision noted that police are required to fire teargas canisters into the air at a specified angle to avoid serious injury.