Story By: Feza Uzay, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
The alleged killer of this attractive young journalism student who was chopped into pieces – possibly while still alive – and whose head was thrown off a cliff has told the judge he is sorry for what he did as the possibility of a 30-year jail sentence looms.
Azra Gulendam Haytaoglu was only 21 years old when she was chopped into pieces and her body parts were stuffed into a bag and buried in a suitcase in the woods.
Her head, which was thrown off a cliff, has never been found since she was last seen alive on 28th July last year (2021).
Her self-confessed killer Mustafa Murat Ayhan, 48, has admitted to choking her until she lost consciousness during his ongoing trial for her murder in the south-western Turkish city of Antalya.
In his latest hearing on 31st January, where he appeared before a judge on charges of deliberate killing, theft and sexual assault, he told the court he was “sorry” for his actions, possibly due to the fact he faces aggravated life imprisonment if found guilty.
An aggravated life sentence is what was introduced to replace the death penalty in Turkey. Those sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment can only be paroled after serving at least 30 years, or 36 years if given more than one sentence.
Grieving dad Mustafa Haytaoglu told reporters following the hearing: “My daughter is turning in her grave.” He added: “I want the murderer to receive the harshest punishment.”
The victim’s mother said: “The country lost someone with a bright future, my daughter. I sent my child to study, but he prevented her from having a future.” She added: “I hope Allah will make him experience pain, too. I believe in justice.”
Semra Yildiz, a lawyer representing the victim’s family, was quoted in local media as saying: “We think that the request for the medical report regarding the accused’s mental health is a move made to prolong the hearing.
“Femicide, unfortunately, is a bleeding wound in our country. We demand justice for Azra Gulendam Haytaoglu and all women.”
Azra was a third-year student at the Journalism Department of Akdeniz University. She was last seen leaving her home on 28th July last year.
She had reportedly accepted an offer to sleep on a “friend’s” sofa and was never seen alive again after prosecutors say the defendant raped her.
The Antalya Police Department believes the last person the victim spoke to on her mobile phone was the defendant, a civil engineer and real estate office manager.
He was questioned by police at the time and eventually confessed to killing the victim, later showing the authorities where he had buried the suitcase in the woods.
The victim’s remains were sent to the Antalya Forensic Medicine Institute for autopsy, but her head has not been found to this day.
Femicide is a growing problem in Turkey, particularly after the country officially quit the Istanbul Convention in July last year.
According to the 2021 Annual Data Report by the ‘We Will Stop Femicide Platform’, 280 women were killed by men in 2021, while 217 women were found suspiciously dead.
According to data from the ‘Monument Counter’, an online monument established to keep alive the memory of the women who died from gender violence in Turkey that is updated daily, 35 femicides have taken place since the beginning of 2022.
The next hearing is set for 21st March.