Europe Turkish prosecutor dies after Istanbul courthouse standoff

Turkish prosecutor dies after Istanbul courthouse standoff

The prosecutor was pictured with a pistol to his head
The prosecutor was pictured with a pistol to his head

(AA) – A Turkish prosecutor, who was shot and critically wounded in an eight-hour hostage situation at an Istanbul courthouse Tuesday has died at the hospital, officials said.

Mehmet Selim Kiraz, 46, had been handling the case of Berkin Elvan, the boy who was critically injured during 2013’s Gezi Park protests and died in March 2014 after falling into a coma for 269 days.

“Kiraz was in critical condition when he was taken to the hospital,” Istanbul’s provincial health director Selami Albayrak told reporters in front of the Florence Nightingale Hospital in Istanbul. “Unfortunately, we have lost him despite all attempts of the operating team.” 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the gunmen had entered the Okmeydani district courthouse, where security measures are tight, disguised as lawyers wearing robes. He said the prosecutor was shot multiple times in the head and body.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said this attack was not only on Kiraz, but on the “Turkish judiciary, democracy and all Turkish citizens.”

“I invite all parts of our society to be calm, cautious and stand united against such despicable attacks,” he said. “Whatever measures need to be taken against terror will be taken.”

Davutoglu also said the terrorists have been identified as Safak Yayla Zonguldak, born 1991, and Bahtiyar Dogruyol, born 1987.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu condemned the incident on Twitter.

“May Mehmet Selim Kiraz rest in peace. I condemn the terrorists and those who legitimize them,” he tweeted.

Kiraz was taken hostage by two terrorists at around 12.30 p.m. (Turkish local time) at his office on the sixth floor of the courthouse. The terrorists were later killed by police. 

“We conducted negotiations for eight hours,” Istanbul police chief Selami Altinok said. “Our security forces launched the operation after gunshots were heard from the prosecutor’s room while the militants were speaking on the phone with authorities during the negotiations.”

Earlier in the day, 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.

In the background, a poster read in Turkish: “We want Berkin’s murderers.”

The Facebook page also said that the DHKP-C members would kill the prosecutor if their demands were not met within three hours.

DHKP-C is a 1978-founded Marxist-Leninist party and is listed as 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, 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. No injuries or casualties were reported, but a police vehicle was damaged.

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. 

During the same year, members of the front conducted an attack on the ruling AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara and the Ministry of Justice.

Previous articleSuspected murderer of 72 immigrants arrested in Mexico
Next articleNigeria’s Jonathan concedes election defeat