Two defendants linked to the terrorist group, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) face aggravated life sentence for the murder of prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz.
Kiraz was taken hostage by Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol, two DHKP-C militants, in his office at the Çağlayan courthouse complex, on March 31, 2015. Before the police stormed the office, the terrorists killed Kiraz. They were killed in an ensuing shootout with the police.
Making his final statement, the prosecutor in the case where 14 defendants are on trial, asked two instances of aggravated life imprisonment for Mustafa Koçak and Murat Canım on terror charges, along with additional prison terms for abduction and violation of firearm laws. Other defendants face lesser charges of aiding a terrorist group they are not members of. The prosecutor also asked a separate trial for nine fugitive defendants.
Kiraz was a prosecutor in the case of police officers accused of killing Berkin Elvan, a protester who took part in the 2013 Gezi Park riots in Istanbul. After his death, Elvan became a symbol for the DHKP-C, which is recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
Out of the 14 defendants, four were jailed while nine others remain at large. The nine suspects include senior leaders of the terrorist group and most are believed to be in Europe. Although they recognize DHKP-C as a terrorist group, EU countries are often reluctant to extradite any member of the group to Turkey as the group disguises itself as a far-left movement facing "political persecution" in Turkey.
The DHKP-C, founded in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist party, operated under the name Dev Sol until 1994. The organization claimed responsibility for a series of high-profile murders, including the assassination of nationalist politician Gün Sazak and former Prime Minister Nihat Erim in 1980. The group also killed several Turkish intelligence officials. In 1994, it was founded as the DHKP-C after Dev Sol splintered. The group's terrorist activities remained relatively minor compared to the PKK, another terrorist organization targeting Turkey. The DHKP-C attempted to stage a bloody comeback in recent years by carrying out attacks against the police. In 2012, about 10 years after its last known lethal attack in Turkey, the DHKP-C conducted a suicide bombing at a police station in Istanbul, killing a policeman. It claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard in February 2013. This was followed a month later by rocket attacks against the Ministry of Justice in Ankara and the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). In September 2013, the DHKP-C claimed responsibility for a rocket attack against the headquarters of Turkish police in the capital. No casualties were reported in the three attacks.