From The Armenian Weekly
Tekir: Investigators Ignored Important Evidence; Criminals Still at Large
ISTANBUL, Turkey (A.W.)—Murat Nazaryan, the suspect in the 2012 murder of 84-year old Istanbul Armenian Maritsa Kucuk, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Feb. 24 in an Istanbul court.
A string of attacks on elderly Armenian women took place in the Samatia district of Istanbul between December 2012 and January 2013, one of which led to the death of Kucuk.
Addressing the court prior to the sentencing, Nazaryan maintained his innocence in regards to the verdict. “I have not committed the crime which I am accused of. I demand to be acquitted,” Nazaryan said, according to CNN Turk. Nazaryan also received a 10-month jail sentence for breaking and entering.
The Armenian Weekly spoke with Istanbul-based activist Sayat Tekir, a member of the Nor Zartonk movement, who maintained that the investigation failed to consider important pieces of evidence. Together with the Human Rights Association (HRA) of Turkey, Nor Zartonk closely followed the case. An independent investigation conducted by the two organizations revealed two other DNAs at Kucuk’s residence, which were presented to investigators. “They made us wait for six months, and then told us that they don’t have a DNA bank,” said Tekir, “They didn’t look into it any further. They didn’t conduct additional examination. They closed the investigation. They pinned the crime on him.”
Tekir said that Nazaryan has mostly stayed silent during the trial, telling the court that he hasn’t “even killed an ant,” and asked for the investigation to continue. According to Tekir, Nazaryan’s lawyers will appeal to a higher court to reverse the verdict. “Until Nazaryan speaks, nothing will change. The other criminals [whose DNA was found at the crime scene] will remain free. There were three assailants at the scene—two are still at large,” said Tekir.
Kucuk was stabbed seven times and her throat was slit in an attack on Dec. 29, 2012. The perpetrator(s) also carved a cross on her chest using a sharp object, some Turkish newspapers and TV outlets reported at the time. Kucuk, who lived alone, was found dead by her daughter Zadik, who was visiting her.
Immediately following the Feb. 24 sentencing, Kucuk’s other daughter Bayzar Midil, expressed her dissatisfaction with the court’s decision, maintaining that a thorough investigation of the crime has not been conducted. Commenting on the verdict, the Kucuk family laywer, Eren Keskin, also said that the real criminals had not been exposed and that there were other suspects, which—thanks to DNA evidence collected at the crime scene—have been proven to have taken part in the crime.
Police apprehended Nazaryan—an Istanbul Armenian—in March 2012, for the brutal attack on and murder of Kucuk. Until now, Nazaryan’s trial was ongoing, although he maintained he had no memory of assaulting the women, and that his initial confession was extracted under psychological duress. At the time of his arrest, lawyers representing Kucuk’s family demanded the court to launch a broader investigation into the case.
In August 2015, Tekir spoke to the Armenian Weekly about the DNA evidence and the indifference of the police in the case.
“What happened to the Maritsa Kucuk case is that they investigated for two months, and they came back with an Armenian name. They said he did it—he’s someone who abuses drugs. They claim that he was there. Perhaps he is one of the murderers. But we found two other DNA [samples] there. We found them—not the police,” Tekir said.
Speaking about the investigation carried out by the Human Rights Association of Turkey and Nor Zartonk, as well as the evidence they found which was not made public by the police, Tekir said: “Their [Kucuk family] lawyers, like Eren Keskin, were instrumental. So despite these pieces of evidence, when you ask what happened, the response is, an Armenian killed another Armenian, nothing more. But around the same time, there were other cases as well. For instance, three individuals tried to kidnap an elderly Armenian woman—not one, but three [assailants]. Rocks were thrown at the church. An elderly Armenian woman was beaten, and she lost an eye. The man arrested for Kucuk’s murder said he drew a cross on her chest. The police said he was in shock and mentally unstable. Until today, not a single photograph of the victim’s body has been released. They didn’t even provide the family with one. So after the man’s conviction, the media dropped the case.”