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Istanbul Prosecutor Taken Hostage in Courthouse by Far-Left Turkish Group (VIDEO)

Istanbul Prosecutor Taken Hostage in Courthouse by Far-Left Turkish Group (VIDEO)

A gunman poses with Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz with a gun on his head after being taken hostage in his office in a court house in Istanbul March 31, 2015. REUTERS/Halkin Sesi TV/Handout via Reuters

An Istanbul prosecutor has been taken hostage by an armed leftist group threatening to kill him if their demands weren’t met. The official was handling the case of the 15-year-old who died in a police gas attack.

The prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was captured in the courthouse building in Istanbul. After a standoff that lasted all day, a blast came from the building in the early evening. Several gunshots were heard, and smoke came from the courthouse, say witnesses interviewed by Reuters.

The agency reported that the building was surrounded by special forces, as ambulances pulled up at the rear entrance. A media blackout imposed by the government after the siege began, means that no official confirmation of events around the courthouse has been available.

Kiraz was leading the case of Berkin Elvan, 15, who died last March after being in a coma for nine months. He sustained his injuries during the anti-government protests of 2013.

Police earlier entered the courthouse earlier to evacuate the staff, and negotiators kept in contact with the hostage-takers. Istanbul police chief Selami Altinok confirmed that a conversation with the two hostage-takers is still ongoing, after the deadline they’d given.

“We are trying to bring the incident to an end without anyone getting hurt. Negotiators are talking to the assailants,” Altinok told reporters.

Top Turkish officials held an emergency meeting to discuss the unfolding crisis, on a day when the country was also hit by severe power cuts.

Sometime in the afternoon, the group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C),started posting Twitter pictures of one of its members holding a gun to Prosecutor Kiraz’s head.

It then issued a 5-point list of demands, threatening to kill the official if they’re not met by 15:36 local time (12:36GMT), although Kiraz is reportedly still alive.

Like many in Turkey, the group is unhappy with the police handling of the Belkin Elvan case and is fiercely anti-government. On its website it called for the policeman blamed for the boy’s death to“confess” on live television. It also wants the officers involved to face a “people’s court,” and for the government to drop all charges against the protesters who took to the streets over Elvan’s death.

A further request was the formation of a negotiation team that the terrorists would hand-pick, including prominent figures.

Finally, it requests a safe exit from the courthouse for the hostage-takers.

The father of the boy called on the hostage takers to set the prosecutor free. “My son is dead, the prosecutor must be released,” reads a Turkish media tweet citing the father.

The group is a Marxist-Leninist outfit, founded in 1978. It’s responsible for a number of assassinations and suicide bombings, and is considered a terrorist group in Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. The group is said to be behind a number of suicide bombings. In 2001, it engaged in attacks against the Turkish police, and on September 10, 2001, carried out its bloodiest attack – a suicide bombing, which took the lives of three people along with that of the bomber’s.

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This entry was posted on March 31, 2015 by in Headlines, Turkey, World and tagged , , .

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