In doubt for the accused

Even after the verdict on the murder of Hatice Surucu, the instrumentalization continues

On Wednesday, the sentence was pronounced in a trial that had long before caused a stir in the public discussion. The young German-Turkish Hatun Surucu had been found shot in February 2005 in Berlin near her apartment. The suspicion fell fast on the brother of the woman. They should have seen in the western way of life of her sister an honor injury for the whole family. According to this interpretation, the murder was a collectively planned act of punishment.

The Berlin Regional Court has now sentenced the youngest brother of the murdered woman, who was 18 years old at the time of the crime, to a juvenile sentence of nine years and three months. He had confessed to the crime and emphasized that he had planned and carried it out alone. The two older brothers were acquitted for lack of evidence.

The public prosecutor’s office immediately filed an appeal against this decision. She is still convinced that the three brothers are responsible for the death of the sister and that the younger one only takes the whole blame because he did not have to expect a life sentence because of his age. The prosecution thus relies on the testimony of a former girlfriend of one of the brothers, who also said that one of the older brothers had sexually abused Hatun. In the end, the witness’s version could neither be confirmed nor rejected, so that the court could not come to any other verdict according to the principle of "doubt for the accused".

This does not prevent various politicians from using the murder of the young woman for their own profiling and at the very least ignoring the principles of the rule of law. The Berlin Senator of the Interior, Ehrhart Korting (SPD), called on the Surucu family to leave Germany. The trial had shown "that this was an apparently integrated family, which has obviously not yet arrived with its values in Germany with most of the family members."This was also expressed in the behavior of the three brothers during the trial. "If they really had honor in the body, then they should draw the consequence and leave the Federal Republic of Germany."

The politician seems not to have heard of violence against women in German families. Even the Greens, who emphasize the rule of law of the ruling, do not forget to mention that this probably made the family’s calculation work out. So not only the two brothers, but also the parents are indirectly declared accomplices, although this could not be proven in court, which may also be due to a lack of investigation by the public prosecutor’s office. However, the behavior of the Surucuhat family has made such instrumentalization easy. In September 2005, the parents even held a press conference at which they claimed to have had no idea of their youngest son’s plans. On the other hand, the father’s attitude remained ambiguous, giving the impression that his main concern was to protect himself and his family from the justice system as much as possible. These ambiguities were confirmation for conservative politicians that certain groups are not capable of integration and that a more restrictive immigration policy is necessary.

The scintillating term honor killing became popular in the context of the murder case. The tabloid press, which is otherwise certainly not a pioneer for women’s rights, spread horror scenarios of parallel societies. Women’s rights activists such as Necla Kelik, whose often pointed criticism of the oppressive family structures in some migrant communities was an important educational tool, suddenly became popular in circles that are otherwise so indifferent to the fate of young women with a migrant background that they are often willing to deport them to their ancestors’ country of origin without any scruples. So wird auch nach dem Urteil in erster Instanz der Mord an Hatice Surucu weiterhin politisch ausgeschlachtet. The exact backgrounds, on the other hand, will probably not be clarified with absolute certainty.

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