The Şule Çet case could set precedent for future femicides: Lawyer
The court ruling in the suspicious death of 23-year-old Şule Çet could set a precedent for future cases of femicides, according to one of the lawyers representing the victim’s family.
“The ruling in the case of Şule will either set a precedent and become a deterrent, or will encourage [other acts of violence against women]. Namely, either the perpetrators will think their offenses have punishments, or they will think they can get away with it and do it again,” Umur Yıldırım, one of the lawyers representing the Şule’s family, told Hürriyet Daily News.
“Our effort is to prevent this from happening to another woman,” Yıldırım said.
The Gazi University textile design student was found dead after falling 66 meters from the 20th floor of a skyscraper in Ankara’s upscale Çankaya district on May 28, 2018.
Businessman Çağatay Aksu, her former boss, and Berk Akant, the two main suspects in the case, face charges of deliberate killing, deprivation of liberty and sexual assault in connection with her death. They have pleaded not guilty.
Aksu claimed that Çet committed suicide by jumping from his office window at 4 a.m.
It was later revealed that Çet had sent an SMS to a friend two hours before her death, saying “I can’t get out of here, this man doesn’t let me go, he is obsessed with me.”
Forensic evidence early on showed that Çet was forced into anal sex before her death. DNA traces were found under nine of her fingernails, as well as bruises on her body pointing to a struggle. The DNA under two of the fingernails was traced to Akant.
The latest forensic report strengthened the case that Çet was murdered, the Çet family lawyer said.
The report showed that “the broken bones in Şule’s neck have a higher possibility of being broken while being strangled, rather than falling,” Yıldırım said.
“She might have been killed about 30 minutes before she was pushed down the window.”
This court case has seen all kinds of “gruesomeness and irregularities,” according to the lawyer.
“There are 10 pieces of evidence, but some are not decisive,” Yıldırım said.
Reports by the Forensic Medicine Institution clearly show that a man had sexual intercourse with Şule because tests during her autopsy revealed the presence of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) – a marker of sperm on her body, he said.
Traces of saliva were also found in Şule’s anal zone during the autopsy, the lawyer said.
“There is no doubt on sexual assault in this case,” he said.
Yet the DNA evidence found in the PSA and saliva cannot be tied to a particular suspect, Yıldırım said.
Tests confirmed the existence of PSA and saliva but were unable to identify to whom the PSA belongs, he said.
Human tissue was found in nine of Şule’s fingernail beds, seven of which cannot be identified as belonging to the suspects.
The DNA in the tissue in the other two fingernail beds belongs to Akant – one of the two suspects.
“That is for sure,” Yıldrım said.
Akant and his lawyers, on the other hand, claim that his DNA could have transferred to Şule’s nail bed via a “handshake,” Yıldırım said.
“For me, there is also no doubt that Şule was murdered. But the question is, who did it?”
Aksu was Şule’s boss. He had hired as an assistant and later fired her from his business.
On the day of Çet’s death, Aksu and Akant invited her to dinner to talk about her working situation. Later, they went to Aksu’s office for after-dinner drinks, where the incident took place.
Aksu claims that Şule committed suicide and he tried to save her, while Akant was in another room, “sleeping.” Yet, no traces of fingerprints were found on the window for where Aksu claims that Şule jumped.
Some of the evidence was destroyed, Yıldırım said.
“Akant even admitted this during a hearing,” the family’s lawyer said. “He said that Aksu had cleaned the glasses [they had drinks in] after Şule’s death, during the hearing.”
Furthermore, Akant has handed over a different phone than his own, Yıldırım said. “Why is he handing a different phone over if he has nothing to hide?”
The most important witness in the case is a friend of Akant, who most likely knows what happened that night, because she had a telephone conversation with Akant after he texted her “Bad things happened,” Yıldırım added.
“She knows what happened, but she is protecting herself,” he said.
The latest hearing in the case took place on July 10. Up until this point, many non-governmental organizations and hundreds of citizens have attended the hearings.
The next hearing is set for Oct. 16.
‘The first prosecutor was a total fiasco’
The arrest of Çağatay Aksu and Berk Akant was “difficult,” Yıldrım said, adding that the first prosecutor in the case had affected the course of events.
“The first prosecutor was a total fiasco. She had the case for three months. In that period, the perpetrators were detained and released two times. In the second detainment, the prosecutor requested arrest for deprivation of liberty. In a case, no one would be arrested for deprivation of liberty,” Yıldırım said.
The first arrest was requested for reckless homicide, Yıldırım said. “There is no reckless homicide in this case. You either killed her, or you did not.”
“Both times they were released on a judicial control decision,” he said.
“The third time, things were different, because the first forensics report came,” he added.
Nevertheless, the prosecutor did not deliver the report to the Çet family’s lawyers for two days, and after she gave the report, she took a leave of absence, Yıldırım said.
“The prosecutor took time off just to not take action. This is a case that is on Turkey’s agenda. One of the most important reports came, and the prosecutor took a leave of absence. For me, this is a malevolent act,” he said.
The prosecutor was later changed, he said.