Posted by Turkse Media
Mar 31, 2015
Public prosecutor taken hostage at Istanbul courthouse
Gunmen seize Mehmet Selim Kiraz, a prosecutor handling the controversal Berkin Elvan case
A public prosecutor at an Istanbul courthouse has been taken hostage by unknown gunmen.
Mehmet Selim Kiraz had been handling the case of Berkin Elvan, who was critically injured during 2013’s Gezi Park protests and died in March 2014 after being in a coma for 269 days.
Today’s incident took place at around 12.30 p.m. (Turkish local time) at Kiraz’ office on the sixth floor of the Okmeydani district courthouse.
Police have moved into position and evacuated the floor where Kiraz was taken hostage. Snipers are also in position.
Two gunshots were heard as security forces were trying to gain access to the office. It is not known if there are any injuries.
Republican People’s Party deputy Huseyin Aygun took to Twitter to say he spoke to Sami Elvan, father of Berkin Elvan on the phone.
Elvan was quoted by Aygun as saying: “My son was killed, others should not be killed. The prosecutor should be released.”
It is not clear how gunmen entered the courthouse, where security measures are tight. There has been speculation that they might have entered the building using a forged attorney ID.
A photograph — showing a gunman pointing a weapon at Kiraz’s head — was published on a Facebook page claiming to be close to an armed leftist group called the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C.
In the background is a poster reading in Turkish: “We want Berkin’s murderers.”
The Facebook page also said that DHKP-C members would kill the prosecutor if their demands were not met within three hours.
The DHKP-C is a 1978-founded Marxist-Leninist party, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
In recent years, the organization has increased its attacks on police officers and foreign consulates.
Last week, the DHKP-C allegedly carried out a bomb attack against Istanbul-based Adimlar Magazine, a monthly political outlet, killing one writer and wounding three others.
A member of the front also opened fire on police officers at Istanbul’s Taksim Square in January this year. No injuries or casualties were reported but a police car was damaged. No one has been prosecuted for this attack.
The DHKP-C also conducted an attack against the U.S. Embassy in Ankara in 2013. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the embassy, killing one security officer and wounding several others. In the same year, members of the front conducted an attack at the ruling AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara and the Ministry of Justice.
AA | ISTANBUL