Bodies still missing as prosecutor deepens probe into ‘Turkey’s most terrifying family’
The bodies of two suspected victims of a crime-ridden family in Turkey’s west remain missing, as the prosecutor announced Jan. 14 that the probe has been expanded.
Police had raided the Palu family’s house in Kocaeli province on Jan. 9 and detained five members. One of the key figures, Tuncer Ustael, was also detained with his wife as they were hosted by TV personality Müge Anlı, who investigates cold cases on her live show on private broadcaster ATV.
The allegations had said that Ustael, who had married into the family in 2008 and introduced himself as an Islamic “hodja who can control jinns,” had converted most of the Palus into ardent followers of his personal cult, before directing the murder of three family members and raped at least four children.
The family members were charged with aiding and abetting Ustael in multiple murders and sexual assault.
The Kocaeli Körfez Chief Prosecutor’s Office said Jan. 14 that forensic excavations have been made in two spots where the suspects said they had buried the bodies of Meryem Tahnal and her daughter Melike Tahnal after Ustael’s abuse and murder.
“No bodies were found in the excavations,” the prosecutor’s statement said, adding that the “ongoing investigation has been deepened” after new sexual assault allegations against Ustael for the period when he was working as a porter at an apartment building in Istanbul years ago.
Long after earlier charges were dropped because the man’s four alleged accomplices in the family testified to protect him. The allegations had resurfaced after two family members came up and appeared on Anlı’s show last month.
The case shocked the country for several weeks as new live episodes of the show were broadcast, releasing new details from the family members’ testimonies.