Assailant in Street Attack in Turkey Ordered Released
Ismail Aydin, here in front of the Kadikoy courthouse, says he has forgiven his assailant. (Photo: CDN)
Court ignores âreligious hostilityâ of Turk who held knife to Christianâs throat.
ISTANBUL, February 12 MPBS24/7 REPORT(CDN) â An Istanbul court has ordered the release of a jailed Turk who publicly threatened and held a knife to the throat of a Christian he attacked six months ago.
In a ruling on Wednesday (Feb. 10), the Kadikoy Seventh Court of First Instance convicted Yasin Karasu, 24, of making death threats and mounting an armed attack against Ismail Aydin. Shouting to attract passersby as he held a knife to Aydinâs throat on Aug. 3, Karasu had denounced the Christian as a âmissionary dogâ who had betrayed Turkey by leaving Islam and evangelizing others.
The crime is punishable by four years in prison, but Justice Tahsin Dogan ruled that Karasu should be released unconditionally, without serving the remainder of his sentence.
After the attack last August, the 48-year-old Aydin had declined to press charges against his assailant, who was taken into police custody at the scene. But state prosecutors charged Karasu under criminal statutes for making armed threats, obstructing anotherâs freedom, and attempted harm with a weapon.
He was then sent to prison for the duration of criminal investigations into the case.
After an initial hearing on Jan. 12, Karasu appeared in Istanbulâs Kadikoy district courthouse this week for a second trial hearing. Arriving in handcuffs from Istanbulâs Metris Prison where he has been incarcerated for the past six months, Karasu erupted in several emotional outbursts as he entered the courthouse with an escort of gendarmerie guards.
At the outset, the prisoner heatedly refused to accept the lawyer his father hired to represent him in court. After a guard removed his handcuffs before he entered the courtroom, Karasu took out of his pocket several handwritten pages, which he said he would submit in his own defense.
Under Turkish law, Karasuâs conviction should have left him with a four-year jail term for his death threats and armed attack on Aydin. But the prosecutor, applying a frequently used law of procedures, cited the defendantâs ârespectful behavior, condition and manners in the courtroom in his favorâ and declared that Karasuâs good conduct had earned him a one-sixth reduction (eight months) in his sentence.
Together with the six months Karasu has already been jailed, that reduced his four-year prison term to a remaining two years and 10 months.
Nevertheless, the court ruled for Karasuâs unconditional release. The Court of Appeal must approve this sentence, however, and his actual release then must be formally approved in writing by the Administrative Board of Penalties.
âIt seems that the judge did not take into account at all that this crime was committed with religious hostility,â one member of the legal committee of Turkeyâs Association of Protestant Churches told Compass. âThat, in my view, should have aggravated the crime and sentence.â
Human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz, after reviewing Wednesdayâs court record, agreed.
âThis is also a crime against the freedom of religion,â Cengiz said. âThis should be another factor to be taken into account, and the sentence should be increased accordingly.â
Karasu had taken Aydin hostage by grabbing him around the neck, holding a knife blade to his throat and forcing him along the street to a busy intersection in Istanbulâs Kadikoy district. Within minutes both TV crews and police arrived at the scene, watching as Karasu wrapped Aydinâs head in a large Turkish flag and continued to taunt him as a traitor to the nation.
âI want to see him set free,â Aydin commented outside the courtroom before this weekâs hearing. Aydin, who converted to Christianity 22 years ago, said he had forgiven Karasu.
Aydin said Karasu had made contact with him several times during the year previous to his attack, asking him questions about the Christian faith. He said Karasu, who was unemployed when he attacked him, had experienced emotional problems and depression while completing the last months of his military service.
Karasuâs father, who traveled from Erzurum to attend this weekâs hearing, told Compass that he could not understand what had caused his son to launch such an attack against Aydin. Confirming that his son had received psychological treatment in the past, he declared his intention to take him back to Erzurum after his release, so that he could live at home and undergo more psychological therapy.