‘Nonexistent’ Berkin Elvan video footage found

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Video footage of the scene of the incident five hours after Berkin Elvan was struck in the head by a tear gas canister during a police crackdown on protesters has been obtained following insistent demands by a lawyer representing the Elvan family.

Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy, went into a coma after sustaining a head injury from a tear gas canister when he went to buy bread during the mass anti-government protests which began in Gezi Park, following a police crackdown in Istanbul’s OkmeydanI neighborhood last June. Elvan died on March 10, 2014.

The court hearing the case asked the Istanbul Police Department on several occasions to hand over its video footage of the area at the time when Elvan was there, but the police claimed there was no such footage from the time of the incident. However, Evrim Deniz Karatana, a lawyer representing the Elvan family, applied to a prosecutor on June 25 to obtain city surveillance camera (MOBESE) footage from the area on June 16, 2013, in order to submit it to the court as evidence.

In its initial response on July 29, the IiIli Police Department said there was no MOBESE footage from the street at the time. The police department also asserted that there were no other surveillance cameras which had recorded the scene of the incident. In another effort on Nov. 1, Karatana requested the police camera footage which was recorded in OkmeydanI. In a response in December, the police stated that no such footage could be found in the department’s archives.

When hopes of obtaining an image or footage seemed to be fading, a witness gave testimony in March 2014 that police fired tear gas at protesters near a police water cannon on June 16 and Karatana applied to the prosecutor to obtain the video footage from the vehicle.

On April 7, the police department admitted that the police water cannon was at the scene of the incident and recording events with a camera. The vehicle camera recorded the area some time after Elvan was struck in the head by a tear gas canister. Karatana and several other lawyers representing the Elvan family will try to identify the police officer responsible.

Video footage taken five hours after incident

The police department also said that the video footage taken by the vehicle camera was recorded five hours after the incident but that the camera was run electrically and when the engine was turned off, the camera no longer recorded the correct date and time. Therefore, while the video footage was thought to have been recorded on May 27, it was actually recorded on June 16 — the day Berkin was hit.

The police department stated that the video footage shows a water cannon truck in OkmeydanI and side alleys trying to put out a fire which broke out after protesters set barricades on fire, as well as firing water cannon to break up protesters at 12:50 p.m.

According to the Radikal daily, Karatana stated that it is not certain exactly when the footage was filmed, adding, “In an effort to determine when the images were taken, we are trying to investigate and examine shadow lengths and the sun’s position to find out the time. At the same time, we are trying to get clear images of police commanders and officers who fired tear gas. We already have an image of the location and officers which was taken when the incident took place. Now we will request the court to compare the previous image of police with the new ones. Even if the images are not from the time of the incident, it could have great importance in identifying the perpetrator.”

omplaining that the prosecutor had ordered the police on several occasions to deliver video footage relevant to the incident, only for the police department to repeatedly insist that there was no such footage, Karatana said, “Our determination and the support of all those involved in shedding light on the Berkin case have worked.”

The video footage has been sent by the prosecutor to legal experts for examination.

Police torture case closed

The investigation into Hakan Yaman, a minibus driver attacked by police after getting caught up in the Gezi Park protests, has been closed by the National Police Department on the grounds that the surveillance camera in the locality was out of order at the time of the incident.

Hurrying home from work, Yaman was trying to avoid the demonstrations, being neither a protester nor a political activist. But he was allegedly stopped and then tortured by police in the street and his eye was gouged out with a sharp object.

Following the incident, the National Police Department launched an investigation into four police officers, but on Wednesday, the department decided to close the investigation because there were no grounds on which to punish the officers allegedly involved in the incident. The National Police Department claimed that there was no video footage of the scene of the incident and so the investigation needed to be closed.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)