LOCAL > ‘I regret what I did,’ Sierra murder suspect says after being brought to Istanbul

HATAY/ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency

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Ziya T. was detained in the southern province of Hatay.  DHA photo

Ziya T. was detained in the southern province of Hatay. DHA photo

Ziya T., the top suspect in the murder of U.S. citizen Sarai Sierra, was transferred to Istanbul by plane from the southern province of Hatay, where he was captured March 17, one-and-a-half months after the 31-year-old woman’s killing. 

“I regret what I did. That’s it. I will tell [what happened] later,” the man, also known as “Laz Ziya,” told reporters as he was being brought for a medical check-up in Istanbul. 

The suspect was captured crossing into Turkey from Syria, Interior Minister Muammer Güler said, adding that Turkish police knew that the suspect was “probably” in Syria.

Istanbul police have begun questioning the suspect, who is facing possible formal arrest and charges.

“[The arrest is the result] of a long-running investigation of our police forces in Istanbul and in Hatay. You are aware that since [Laz Ziya’s whereabouts were elucidated] we had a team in Hatay. We work with evidence, not with rumors,” Istanbul police chief Hüseyin Çapkın said soon after the suspect was transferred to Istanbul. “It was an international case. I thank my colleagues for conducting the operation successfully without harming our reputation.”

Sierra who left the United States for the first time in her life on Jan. 7 to take pictures in Istanbul, which is visited by millions of tourists every year, went missing in the city on Jan. 21 and her dead body was found on Feb. 2.

Ziya T. or “Laz Ziya,” left Istanbul shortly after Sierra’s body was found by police in Istanbul’s historic city walls located in Sarayburnu, shore to Bosporus.

Ziya T. (46), who used to earn his living collecting and selling used paper, according to his family’s statements that had claimed Ziya T, was an “unbalanced man.”

According to police reports, after leaving Istanbul, Ziya T. went to his sister’s house in the northwestern province of Karabük where he spent three days. He told his family he was heading for the southern province of Hatay.

Police have been searching for suspects since then, but the top suspect, Ziya T., was said to have escaped to Syria.

Ziya T. was detained within Turkish borders in Hatay’s Reyhanlı district; official sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The suspect was detained in Hatay province, near Turkey’s border with Syria, Reyhanlı, Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz said.

Previously, Turkish security forces had contacted the armed opposition in Syria, which controls “liberated zones,” to capture suspects in the deadly bombing of the Turkish Syrian border gate of Cilvegözü.

The al-Nusra Front, al-Faruk Brigade and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Brigade, which are controlling the mountainous area in Latakia, a western province of Syria, also provided information on the issue, according to a report by Turkish daily Yeni Şafak.

Five suspects were arrested out of eight detainees who were brought from Syrian land on March 11 after a month-long investigation.

The al-Nusra Front has been blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization for its deadly suicide attacks.


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Notice on comments

joe Maddin

3/19/2013 12:37:06 AM

@Nageyez I don't know who is the killer, the police neither. They have no definite proof the guy killed her. As I said he might have found her dead and stole her leather jacket to sell it. I think that Siera was in Turkey for more than photography. She has been in contact with 4 Turkish men on social networks. Only one was investigated and said he had sex with her and was expecting to see her again. He was released without charges, What about the other 3? It's more than it appears.

mara mcglothin

3/18/2013 10:10:56 PM

THESSALONIAN Perhaps there was DNA on her cell phone as well. What I want to know is how can someone be sorry for something they cannot remember????


3/18/2013 9:36:11 PM

Crime never pays! Feeling regretfulness even wholeheartedly after causing a poor lady's life upon her first visiting the country will not bring you the remission of the penalty.The Turkish Police Force has been able to secure the regaining the prestige of the country, so I am standing to applaud them.

Nageyec Conduz

3/18/2013 12:45:14 PM

@Joe Maddin, since you have said, Zia T is not the likely killer of Serai Sierra, then why don't you tell us who is the actual killer.

Richard Wyatt

3/18/2013 10:55:28 AM

Joe Maddin, why are you so convinced the garbage collector is innocent? Close to where I live there used to be a garbage collector with three dogs that wandered with him. I always used to make a fuss of the dogs, and would chat with him. Then he started demanding money from me, and in the end became aggressive with it. Fortunately he eventually disappeared from my neighbourhood. I learned from that experience that those poor garbage collectors (and their dogs) are best avoided.

cezer "çapulcu" skonore

3/18/2013 3:59:03 AM

joe Maddin: Is there any other news organization confirmed the Yeni Safak news, I wonder? It is a news paper with an agenda. They also claim that "Pope's collaboration with Junta is proven".

joe Maddin

3/18/2013 2:29:00 AM

Thessalonian, There has been no struggle that I read. The only implicating DNA was found on Siera's body not under her finger nails. The guy was a poor retarded beggar. He probably found the body and stole the stained leather jacket that he sold in the bazar. There is no proof he killed her. The killer is somewhere else. It is strange that the young Turkish guy who admitted he had sex with Siera has suddenly disappeared from the news. It is fishy.

Nageyec Conduz

3/17/2013 11:13:50 PM

It looks like that Joe Maddin is a champion for the killers, instead of victims. Thank God the Killer of Sarai is caught, yet Joe Maddin is ironically sympathising and calling him a poor man. Secondly, when those border gate bombers was thankfully caught by the security forces, he yet again criticised the authorities for apprehending them.


3/17/2013 7:52:50 PM

@joe Maddin. DNA testing from tissues found under the victim's fingernails should be able to accurately and conclusively establish if the acused is indeed guilty. However, in the eyes of a rational and civilized legal system the accused are innocent until proven otherwise. Hopefully this is the case in Turkey as well... Regards

joe Maddin

3/17/2013 7:49:13 PM

C.B Mays I think we will never know the truth, like we'll never know the truth about the bombings at the borders or the Turkish plan downed in Syria. It is all noise just to show that the police is doing a good job. I do not trust it. It is under the control of the AKP who only cares about the image of Erdogan as a future president
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