Two men convicted in high profile Turkish femicide case

Two men have been convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment by an Ankara court for the death of a 23-year old university student in a high profile case.

The T24 news portal reported on Wednesday that Berk Akand and Cagatay Aksu were of the death of Sule Cet during the sixth hearing of the lawsuit filed into Cet’s suspicious death by the Ankara 31st Heavy Penal Court.

Aksu was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment on the charge of “murder.”

Aksu reportedly received 10 more years in prison for “sexual assault” and another two years and six months for “deprivation of liberty.”

The court also sentenced Akand to 18 years and nine months in prison for assisting Aksu in committing each of the three crimes of which he was convicted.

Cet lost her life around 4 am on May 29, 2018, after she fell from the 20th floor of a luxury skyscraper in the Turkish capital city of Ankara, where she was with her employers Berk Akand and Cagatay Aksu.

On the day she died, she was asked by businessman Aksu to come to his office and talk about getting her part-time job back after she had been dismissed by another employer at the same company.

Representatives from several women’s rights organizations, including Ankara Women’s Platform, on Wednesday, gathered in front of the courthouse prior to the hearing and opened banners that read “Not male justice, but real justice” and “Justice for Sule Cet.”

Umut Yildirim, the lawyer representing Cet family, stated during Wednesday’s hearing that they will appeal against the good conduct time given to defendant Aksu, who received “life imprisonment” instead of “aggravated life imprisonment” reportedly due to “his good behavior at court.”

The two defendants had been facing an aggravated life sentence on charges of “murder”, “sexual assault” and “false imprisonment”.

In Turkey, the prisoners sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment are held in rooms for one person and are allowed one hour of open-air or sports per day. They can be paroled after serving at least 36 years, or 40 years if given more than one sentence. Those sentenced to life imprisonment can be paroled after serving 30 years, or 36 years if given more than one sentence.

The police and the local prosecutor’s office initially supported a claim asserted by Aksu and Akand that Cet had committed suicide.

Cet’s case was reopened as a murder investigation only after heavy campaigning by women’s rights groups, journalists and politicians.

“We were arrested 45 days later, due to public pressure and social media pressure,” Aksu said during his last defense on Wednesday’s hearing.

Cet’s case stirred widespread anger in Turkey for being one of the most striking examples of the femicide cases that have been seen as an epidemic across the country.

According to data by the We Will Stop Femicide platform in Turkey, 39 women in the country were killed by men in November alone and 30 percent of the 440 femicides that occurred in 2018 were classified as “suspicious.”

Turkey was ranked 137 out of 149 countries in the gender gap index of the World Economic Forum in 2018.

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