BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
When an elderly Armenian couple was found hogtied in an apartment in Istanbul on Saturday, resulting in the death of one of them, there was speculation—including from this publication—that it was a hate crime against Armenians.
On February 6, Hagop Yakup Demirci, an 85-year-old Armenian man living in Istanbul’s Şişli district with his wife, Seta Ayda Demirci, 79, was found dead after burglars left the elderly Armenian couple hogtied inside their apartment, from which the burglars stole 100,000 Turkish liras (around $35,000). The body of Demirci was retrieved from the apartment located in Şişli’s Harbiye neighborhood with a ladder from the fire department, according to Hurriyet Daily Newspaper.
On Thursday, Istanbul authorities announced that eight suspects were apprehended and all of them were Armenian.
A special team formed by several officers from the homicide bureau of the Istanbul Police Department Public Order Unit captured three of the suspects, one of whom has been a servant for the Armenian couple, in the Black Sea province of Trabzon late Feb. 9 while five other suspects, who were reported to have helped commit the burglary, were captured in Istanbul on the same day. All eight of the suspects, five women and three men, were revealed to be Armenians upon a police investigation, reported Hurriyet.
On Thursday, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the suspects were from Armenia, saying, however, “Opportunities to provide consular assistance are restricted because of the lack of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey.”
Police identified the suspects from video footage around the couple’s apartment located on Cumhuriet Street. The three burglars who were captured in Trabzon were preparing to travel to Batumi, a commercial hub in Georgia, with fake identity cards, police sources said, adding that the trio had former criminal records.
The couple was discovered by a housekeeper who went to the apartment at around 2 p.m. Saturday. After not receiving a response she informed the couple’s family and the police.
The couple was taken out of their apartment on the third floor of a building in a joint effort by police officers and firefighters. Hagop Yakup Demirci was pronounced dead while his wife was found severely wounded with her face bruised. She was released from the hospital on Monday.
Shame on the alleged suspects for attacking the elderly couple.