Late lawyer Elci remembered at hearing for missing villagers

Elci followed many cases of missing persons and “became the target of several groups. He was the lawyer for victims. We cannot accept a lawyer being murdered after he stood up for what he believed in. It is difficult to fill the hole left behind by Tahir Elci, but we will try to look after this case in his place,” Anlar said.

Elci was shot after giving a statement to the press in the historic Sur district of Diyarbakır.

During the hearing, complainant Erhan Avar said in court: “They [members of the Bolu Gendarmerie Brigade Command] took my mother and father together. There were eight of us children at home, the youngest of whom was one-and-a-half-years old. Later, my mother came home but they took my father somewhere else. I saw my father when he was imprisoned but never again afterwards.”

Eleven villagers in Kulp, Diyarbakır province, disappeared after they were detained by the Bolu Gendarmerie Brigade Command in 1993. The prosecutor investigating the case on Monday sought an arrest warrant for Yavuz Erturk, who was in charge of the command that carried out the detentions, one day before the statute of limitations in the case was due to expire. Erturk was brought to the İstanbul Courthouse on Monday, where he testified to a prosecutor.

On Nov. 4, 2004, 11 years after the villagers went missing, human remains and long-range rifles were discovered in Kepir, a region in Diyarbakır. Then-Human Rights Association (İHD) Diyarbakır branch President Selahattin Demirtas and a group dug out the remains with the permission of the local prosecutor. A forensic report issued in 2005 established that human bones found in the area belonged to Mehmet Salih Akdeniz and Behcet Tutus, two of the villagers who were detained by gendarmes under Erturk’s command. The report also indicated that the remaining bones belonged to nine adult individuals according to DNA tests.

The 11 villagers from Alaca, a village in Kulp, were detained on Oct. 9, 1993, on their way back to their village from Senyayla in Kulp when they were taken into custody by soldiers of the Bolu 2nd Ranger Brigade Command. The villagers were held under orders from Erturk for nine days.