Killer of Turkish female student Özgecan Aslan shot dead in prison | News | DW | 11.04.2016
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Killer of Turkish female student Özgecan Aslan shot dead in prison

A man convicted of the murder and attempted rape of a 20-year-old student in Turkey has been found shot and killed in prison. The news, however, appears to have resulted in a collective sigh of relief across the country.

Minibus driver Ahmet Suphi Altindoken, 27, was hospitalized immediately after the attack; however, the government said that doctors were not able to save him. The Dogan news agency reported that he was shot near the heart with a 6.35 millimeter pistol.

Altindoken's father, one of two men jailed as accomplices to the murder, was meanwhile wounded in the attack at the high-security prison in the southern Adana region.

Ahmet Suphi Altindoken had been jailed for life without parole in December 2015 for murdering and attempting to rape Özgecan Aslan in a crime that triggered outrage and protests across Turkey.

Severe reactions in a severely wounded country

Aslan's mother, Songul, told the Hurriyet daily newspaper that she did not want to talk about the prison attack, saying only that she didn't know what had happened.

"Nothing can bring my daughter back. We do not want to talk about this issue," she said.

Many others, however, took to Twitter to express their relief at the prison murder.

One user said in Turkish that now there was "one less undignified being" left, while another said that she was "disappointed to hear about it. You weren't the kind of man who was not supposed to die with a single bullet but rather suffer as your life would be taken from you slowly."

While similar sentiments were repeated throughout Twitter, there were only few voices that tried to contribute to a more balanced dialogue.

Violence against women has been a major talking point in recent social debate across Turkey, with Aslan's February 2015 murder serving as catalyst for addressing many forms of violence and injustice against women in Turkey, including marital assaults. In the past, killers had frequently been able to get a reduced sentence by arguing that a woman provoked them, or that their dignity was impugned.

Activists say remarks by government officials about women and how they should be treated also leave them exposed to violence, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying last year that women and men were not equal. His wife Emine Erdogan announced earlier this year that Ottoman-era harems, where sultans would keep scores of wives and concubines, used to be a good place to prepare women for life.

The crime that shook Turkey

During the trial it had been revealed that Aslan had been travelling on Altindoken's minibus on the day of her murder. When all other passengers had got off the bus he drove to a forest and tried to rape her. Aslan reportedly fought back using pepper spray. Altindoken then bludgeoned and stabbed her to death.

Altindoken's father and a friend were both found guilty of helping him burn and dispose of the body.

Lawyers said after the trial that it was public pressure that saw the three men get aggravated life sentences - the highest punishment in Turkey since it abolished the death penalty in 2002.

Inquiry launched

Turkey's deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, meanwhile announced that officials had launched an inquiry into the attack in the prison in the southern city of Adana, in which Suphi Altindoken was killed and his father wounded.

"We received the information that the person was badly wounded and then died. And we were made aware that the father was also wounded but his life not in danger," Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus said.

"To kill anyone in prison - whoever it is - is unacceptable. Whatever negligence there has been will be brought to light."

The inquiry will examine how the gun that shot Suphi Altindoken was smuggled into the prison.

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