The first footage from the day Berkin Elvan was fatally wounded by a tear gas canister has emerged as part of an investigation into the young Gezi victim’s death, despite authorities’ previous denials that there were any cameras near the scene of the incident.
The footage obtained by daily Radikal was recorded by a water cannon truck (TOMA) that was dispatched to the Okmeydanı neighborhood of Istanbul around six hours after Elvan was hit by a tear gas canister. But lawyers representing Elvan’s family said the actual date and time on the footage was inaccurate, expressing hope that the recordings could provide information about which officers were deployed in the area on June 16, 2013, the day the boy was struck and ultimately killed.
“We had a picture taken at the time of the incident. We will now demand the comparison of the police officers seen in that photograph and these new images. Even though the footage was not captured during the moment of the incident, they are crucial for finding the perpetrator,” said lawyer Evrim Deniz Karatana.
The 15-year-old’s death on March 11 after 269 days in a coma sparked a fresh wave of outrage across the country, drawing even more attention to the stalled investigation into the circumstances in which Elvan was hit by a tear gas canister as he went out to buy bread. Officials are under fire for failing to conduct an effective investigation and bring charges against potential suspects.
Lawyers had in vain requested the recordings of surveillance cameras (MOBESE) in the area, with the Şişli Police Department saying there were no cameras where Elvan was killed. When lawyers then demanded the footage recorded by security forces, the Istanbul Police Department replied, saying no such recordings had been placed in their archive.
Witness reveals presence of TOMA
It was only after a witness said he saw a TOMA in the zone as police were firing tear gas that lawyers made a demand to review the footage filmed by the cameras installed on the infamous water cannon trucks.
“We wrote to the police department many times, asking them to send us footage, but each time they answered us, saying they was no footage. But our persistence and the appropriation of Berkin’s case by the people finally allowed us to gain some ground,” Karatana said.
In its answer to the lawyers’ demand, the police department said that two TOMAs had been dispatched to the zone but that only one had a camera system. The police department also added that the date and time on the footage was wrong – showing May 27, 2013 – but that it was indeed from June 16, 2013.
“We are now trying to determine the precise time with data such as the shadows’ height and the sun’s direction,” Karatana said.
Prosecutors also sent the footage to experts for a forensic analysis.
Footage showing the moment that Gezi victim Ali İsmail Korkmaz was fatally beaten by plainclothes men in Eskişehir was revealed to have been altered by the police.
The footage showing the fatal collision that killed Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, the first Gezi victim, also surfaced eight months after the incident. Another piece of footage that emerged after the death of Ethem Sarısülük during the Gezi protests in Ankara distinctly showed officer A.Ş. shooting the oldest Gezi victim at point-blank range. The police department, however, denied in its defense that A.Ş. had intentionally fired his weapon at protesters.