Turkish boy hurt in anti-government protests dies 9 months later

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 11, 2014 5:00 AM

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A 15-year-old Turkish boy who suffered a head injury during anti-government protests in Istanbul last June died on Tuesday after spending months in a coma, triggering renewed clashes between police and his family's supporters.

Berkin Elvan, then aged 14, got caught up in street battles between police and protesters on June 16 after going out to buy bread for his family. He was struck in the head with a suspected police tear-gas canister and went into a coma.

Elvan had become a rallying point for critics of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government and they held regular vigils at the hospital where he lay in intensive care. No police officer has been prosecuted in connection with the Elvan case.

"To our people: We lost Berkin Elvan today at 7 a.m. Condolences to us all," his family said in a message on Twitter.

After his death, family supporters outside the Istanbul hospital began pelting a police minibus with objects and the police responded with tear gas. They had also used tear gas on Monday to disperse a crowd keeping vigil at the hospital.

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Elvan was the sixth person to die in violence surrounding nationwide protests in late May and June over Erdogan's plans to tear down a park in central Istanbul. Those protests quickly turned into Turkey's biggest anti-government demonstration in years amid unhappiness with Erdogan's 11-year rule.

(Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Gareth Jones)