This footage allegedly shows a taxi driver in Istanbul kidnapping a female French tourist before finally stopping and pulling her screaming from his car and beating her up.
The incident took place in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul during a taxi ride from the hip and happening Karakoy neighbourhood, known for its cocktail bars and off-the-wall cafes, to nearby Taksim Square on the evening of Thursday, 20th January.
The woman, who has been named in local media reports as 24-year-old Loubna Bendeddouche, was visiting Istanbul with her partner Djamel Bendeddouche, age not reported.
But when they reached their destination in the taxi, the taxi driver allegedly refused to give them any change despite the taximeter showing that they owed TRY 21 (GBP 1.15) and despite them having allegedly given the taxi driver TRY 100 (GBP 5.50).
Instead of giving them change, the taxi driver, who has been named only as Mesut D., 32, allegedly shouted at them: “No money, go.”
An argument allegedly began between the French tourists and the taxi driver, with Djamel getting out of the taxi at Taksim Square before Mesut D. drove away with the woman still inside and the doors locked, effectively kidnapping her, and Djamel running after the vehicle in vain.
Footage of the incident shows the woman shouting at the taxi driver to stop. She reportedly started filming after he drove off with her locked in the back of his taxi.
In the video, she can be heard saying (in French): “I am in a taxi. The permit number is 34 THL 61. He does not want to stop. What the f*ck is going on? I swear on my mother, I am not moving from here. I am serious, I am not moving from here.
“Is this a joke or what? Take me back to Taksim. You dirty thief! Take a good look at his face. I swear to God… This scumbag… 34 THL 61.”
Additional footage filmed by an eyewitness allegedly shows the taxi driver pulling the woman out of the car and beating her.
The woman told Turkish media at the scene (in English): “We took a taxi to go to Taksim. It was 20 on the taximeter, I gave 100 liras to pay. I said give me the change, he said ‘no’ to me. I asked why. He said ‘there was a lot of traffic’. I said ‘I don’t care, give me the change’. But he said ‘no’. He tore my jacket. Look at my jacket, look at my shoes. Look at my nails, they’re all broken. This can’t be real.”
Police responded to the incident at the scene and took the two tourists to a police station to take a statement.
The taxi driver Mesut D. has reportedly been taken into custody and has been transferred to the courthouse to answer charges of extortion and deprivation of liberty. He was subsequently released and is currently under house arrest.
He claims that he did not hear that the woman was still in the car. He reportedly said: “The right rear door of the vehicle opened and I saw the male tourist get out of the vehicle. I noticed that the female tourist was not getting out of the vehicle, so I waited.
“I turned to face the backseat and told the woman to get out. The woman said a few words that I could not understand and she did not get out of the vehicle. I drove a little further due to the traffic behind me.
“When I saw a suitable place, I stopped again so she could get out of the vehicle. I opened the back door and told her to get out. However, the woman did not get out of the vehicle, and I sat in the driver’s seat again and continued to drive because there were a lot of cars waiting for me to move.
“While I was driving, the woman started shouting at me and saying words I did not understand. Meanwhile, she was hitting around inside the vehicle. I eventually took her back to where she took the taxi.”
He said in his statement: “During the trip, they were talking loudly, arguing with each other. The man handed TRY 20, which I took. Then we arrived in front of the hotel. The taximeter fee was TRY 14. Since the hop-on hop-off fee is TRY 20, I did not give them change. The male tourist said ‘money money’ to me. I told them ‘no money’.”
The taxi driver also claimed that he eventually refunded the couple. The investigation is ongoing.