Three go on trial over Turkish student’s murder

GavelThree men on Friday went on trial at a Turkish court facing life imprisonment over the murder and attempted rape of a 20-year-old female student that unleashed a wave of anger over violence against women in the country.

Ozgecan Aslan was murdered in the southern region of Mersin in February while returning home from a shopping trip on a minibus, in a crime that sparked street protests and Internet campaigns.

The driver of the minibus, Ahmet Suphi Altindoken, was arrested and charged with murder and attempted rape.

Meanwhile his father, Necmettin Altindoken, and a friend, Fatih Gokce, were also arrested and charged with helping him hide the crime and conceal evidence.

If found guilty, all face aggravated life imprisonment — life jail terms with tougher conditions — the highest penalty possible in Turkey after its abolition of the death penalty.

The trial got underway at the court in the city of Tarsus in the Mersin province with all three suspects present after being brought from their prisons, the Anatolia news agency and NTV channel reported.

In a show of solidarity, some 1,000 lawyers have requested to take part in the trial to represent Ozgecan Aslan as co-plaintiffs and television pictures showed them arriving in buses from all over Turkey.

However there is only space for around 100 in the court. Hundreds of supporters also massed outside the court, holding up pictures of Ozgecan and urging justice.

Ahmet Suphi Altindoken is accused of driving Ozgecan Aslan to a wood after all the other passengers had got off and then attempting to rape her.

However the young woman fought back against her attacker using pepper spray and Altindoken then bludgeoned and stabbed her to death.

Altindoken’s father and friend are accused of helping him then burn and dispose of the body. The remains were found by police and the three were arrested.

The Turkish authorities acknowledge there is a grave problem of violence against women in the country, often concerning wives killed by their husbands.

According to the Platform to Stop Violence Against Women NGO, 286 women were murdered in Turkey in 2014 and 134 so far in 2015.

In another shocking attack in May, a teenage Turkish woman who was competing in a nationwide televised song contest was shot in the head, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. Mutlu Kaya, 19, remains in a coma.

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