Almost two months after the murder of 17-year-old Münevver Karabulut, the main suspect has not been arrested and recent statements from Istanbul Police Chief Celalettin Cerrah blaming the victim’s family have only added to the furor.
In a phone interview with daily Hürriyet, Cerrah was asked why the main suspect, who was Karabulut’s boyfriend, had not yet been arrested and why the family had not been informed about developments in the case. "Did they also tell you why they did not watch their daughter?" he replied. "When would you like your daughter to come home? Would you allow her to stay late at night in her boyfriend’s house?"
Karabulut’s body was found in a garbage bin in central Etiler at the beginning of last month. Her head was found in a nearby guitar box. The evidence pointed to her boyfriend, Cem Gariboğlu. Witnesses testified that they had seen Gariboğlu throwing a bag into the garbage bin, and police found traces of cleaned-up blood all over his house, and a saw with blood on it as well. Despite this, Gariboğlu has not been arrested, leading to widespread accusations from the Karabuluts, the media and the public that his wealthy family has protected him.
Lawyer and women’s rights activist Hülya Gülbahar called Cerrah’s statements "a sign of a terrifying mentality," daily Milliyet reported. "It is already sufficiently painful that an authority cannot fulfill his duty of providing security and protecting the freedom of women whenever and wherever," Gülbahar said. "It is unacceptable that he made a statement like that, one that will limit women’s freedom, cause oppression against women from society and their families and encourage assaults against women." Cerrah’s statement should be cause for his removal from office, Gülbahar said. Lawyer Canan Arın added that the police chief’s statements are subjective opinions and that he does not have the right to give such a response to a family in pain.
According to Zafer Üskül, the head of the parliamentary commission on human rights, the police’s duty is not to intervene in people’s lifestyles, but to find the killer. "If a public official is saying this, he puts himself in a situation where he is discriminating against people with different lifestyles while doing his job, which is unacceptable," Üskül said.
Added Hakkı Köylü, the deputy head of the parliamentary commission on justice: "Is it cause to murder a girl, if her family is not calling or watching their daughter? The family might have faults, they might neglect the daughter, but it has nothing to do with finding the murder suspect."
Süreyya Karabulut, the father of the victim, also reacted to Cerrah’s statements, daily Radikal reported. "My daughter has not grown up alone," he said. "[Cerrah] said that we should watch our daughter. Then what is the job of police? Every person living in Istanbul, every minute, every moment, risks facing a crime. Who is the one here to hand over criminals to justice? Is it me?"
Mehmet Nida Gariboğlu, the father of Cem Gariboğlu, was meanwhile arrested Monday on suspicion of participating in the murder after evidence showed that blood found on him belonged to Münevver. Both of Cem Gariboğlu’s parents had previously been arrested as blood was found on their clothes, however, they were released by the court. Police also applied for an international arrest order for Cem Gariboğlu.