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Turkish court acquits defendants in Berlin 'honor killing'

May 30, 2017

A Turkish court has set free two German-Turks after finding them not guilty of killing their sister in Berlin in 2005. The case caused public outrage in Germany over the treatment of women in some Muslim families.

Deutschland Gedenkstein für  Hatun Sürücü
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Stache

Turkish court acquits defendants in Berlin 'honor killing'

A Turkish court on Tuesday acquitted two brothers of involvement in the so-called "honor killing" of their sister, Hatun Sürücü, in Berlin 12 years ago.

Judges in Istanbul ruled that there "wasn't enough explicit and plausible clear evidence" to find the unnamed 36- and 38-year-olds guilty of complicity in the murder. Their younger brother has already served time in a juvenile facility for the crime in Germany.

Hatun Sürücü, 23, a German of Kurdish background, was shot dead on February 7, 2005 by her youngest brother, Ayhan - 19 at the time - while she was standing at a bus stop near her apartment in the Berlin district of Tempelhof. She left a 5-year-old son, born of a forced marriage to her cousin when she was 16. She later divorced her husband.

Read: Brother admits to honor killing

Ayhan was sentenced to nine years and three months in juvenile detention in Germany. He told the court that he had killed his sister because he despised her "Western" lifestyle and wanted to restore his family's honor. Hatun, who had reported threats of violence to police, was training to be an electrician at the time she was killed, and was reportedly dating a German man.

Long wait for a retrial

The two older brothers, who were already co-defendants at the trial in Germany, were acquitted due to a lack of evidence. However, in August 2007, the German Federal Court of Justice overturned their acquittals and intended to resume proceedings against them.

By that time, however, the two brothers had moved to Turkey, where authorities eventually also initiated criminal proceedings. German authorities supplied their Turkish counterparts with a wealth of material and evidence.

Their trial for murder commenced in Istanbul on January 26, 2016. Ayhan, who had been deported to Turkey in 2014, insisted at the trial that he alone was responsible, although this time he did not attempt to justify it with the motive of "honor." Instead, he claimed to have lost his self-control.

State prosecutors had called for long prison sentences for the two brothers, now 36 and 38, for complicity in murder.

Public outrage

The murder, which came after six other so-called "honor killings" in Berlin since October 2004, aroused a heated public debate in Germany about the treatment of women in Muslim culture. Opponents of Turkey's admission to the European Union used it as an example of that country's alleged disregard for human rights.

Demonstrations still take place on the anniversary of Hatun's death, with participants campaigning to promote assistance for girls who are faced with forced marriage or violence from their families.

tj/rt (dpa, AFP)