An appeals court in Ankara has upheld the prison sentences of two perpetrators in the 2018 murder of 23-year-old university student Şule Çet, a case that drew massive media attention and sparked nationwide demands for more to be done to end murders of women in Turkey.
The court approved the life sentences and 12.5 years of imprisonment for Çağatay Aksu, who was convicted on charges of “deliberate killing,” “aggravated sexual assault,” “deprivation of liberty” and “destroying evidence of crime.”
The court also upheld the sentences of the other suspect, Berk Akand, who received 18 years and nine months of jail time over “aiding and abetting the murder,” “aggravated sexual assault” and “deprivation of liberty.”
Thrown from 20th floor of skyscraper
Çet was found dead after being pushed down 66 meters from the 20th floor of a skyscraper in Ankara’s upscale Çankaya district on May 28, 2018.
Although the defendants’ lawyers claimed the incident was a suicide, forensic evidence reports showed the opposite.
The reports also showed that Çet was forced into sexual intercourse before her murder.
The detailed ruling stressed that Çet had agreed to meet with Aksu on the night of the murder, in search of a job at that time with the hope that she would find one.
The ruling also emphasized that Aksu sexually assaulted Çet, subsequently battered, killed and threw her off the skyscraper and eliminated the evidences, trying to frame it as a suicide.
However, the defendants had the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals.
Speaking to daily Milliyet, İsmail Çet, the father of Şule Çet, said he was happy with the ruling.
“The defendants received the necessary punishment. They didn’t get away with what they did. Every woman who falls victim to murder is my daughter, my sister,” he said, wishing that society takes a united stance against femicides.
Good conduct abatement stirs debate
An aggravated life sentence demanded for Aksu had been reduced to life sentence by a local court because he showed “good behavior.”
“Our requests were accepted according to the occurrence of the event. The judgment of the local court was found correct. However, of course, we do not accept the good conduct abatement given to the defendants,” said Onur Tatar, one of the lawyers of the Çet family.
“We will also appeal the judgment as a participatory party. We will move the ruling to the Supreme Court by objecting to the decision on the good conduct discount [of sentence]. [But] we find the ruling positive,” Tatar added.
The recent killings of women in Turkey has triggered debate over, along with criticism of, good conduct abatement practices under the penal code in these cases.
Çet’s case reignited debate over mounting violence against women in Turkey, where more than 90 women have already been killed so far in 2020.
Many non-governmental organizations, women’s right platforms and representatives of political parties had followed the case closely.
“Justice has found its place in the legal struggle for Şule Çet. Sleep well, my daughter Şule,” said Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş regarding the ruling of the appeals court.