Reduced sentence for man who caused wife’s death stirs reaction
Fırat Alkaç - ISTANBULThe reduction of the sentence for a man, Mehmet Çelik, who caused his wife Hatice Çelik, to fall to her death from the balcony of their home after chasing her with a knife, stirred a reaction among the woman’s family as well as her colleagues.
An Istanbul court first sentenced Mehmet to aggravated life imprisonment, but afterwards, on the grounds of “unjust provocation and good conduct,” the court abated the sentence to 15 years. Due to a law on the execution of sentences, the sentence was further decreased to 10 years, in addition to a chance for the suspect to utilize probation, making the total number of years Mehmet will serve in prison correspond to eight years, causing an uproar among Hatice’s beloved ones.
Hatice (35), a nurse, who was married with one child, filed for divorce last year in Istanbul due to irreconcilable differences. Just one day after she submitted her divorce petition to the authorities, her husband, Mehmet, came to their home on April 12, 2016, under the pretext of collecting his belongings.
After threatening Hatice, he chased her in their home to their balcony, with knife in hand, from where she fell. Hatice lost her life 16 days later. The police then launched an investigation into the incident to determine if Çelik committed suicide or if it was a murder case.
In his first testimony, Mehmet denied the murder charges, saying his wife had jumped off the balcony on her own initiative.
He said Hatice swore at him, which “provoked him,” after which he took a knife and shouted at her, “I will kill you.” “She then went onto the balcony with her cigarette. Then, I heard one of the neighbors shouting that ‘a woman jumped off,’” he said.
The First Istanbul Heavy Penal Court said in its ruling on June 21 that the victim had jumped from the six-meter high balcony from fear the suspect might kill her. The case was not “voluntary manslaughter” but instead “eventual intent,” and due to the victim’s “insult” at the suspect, it was not clear which party had undertaken the first unjust move, the court said further.
Although the court first ruled for aggravated life imprisonment, it then took into account the crime had been committed with “eventual intent,” “unjust provocation,” and “good conduct,” and reduced the sentence.
“The sentence has been abated to 15 years. This ruling has hurt me deeply. Maybe my daughter did not swear, despite this given as a cause for the abatement. There is no witness to that. [The suspect] only says ‘she swore at me’ and the court directly accepts this,” said Hatice’s father İhsan Sönmez, reacting against the ruling.
While Hatice Çelik was at the hospital struggling for her life, doctors, nurses, and health personnel had undertaken protests in front of the hospital with placards reading “We stand by you,” reacting to male violence against women.
“Hatice was killed only because she wanted a divorce. The court applied reduction upon reduction [to the sentence]. Due to these reductions, new femicides are taking place. We will follow up on this issue,” said Fadime Kavak in front of the hospital, a representative of a health union that Hatice was a member of.