Double murder trial in Turkey adjourned

Thursday 21 June 2012 10.27

By Paul Cunningham, Europe Correspondent

Shannon Graham came to Izmir expecting to come face-to-face with her former boyfriend, Recep Cetin, who is accused of murdering her mother, Marion Graham.

Cetin has already told a previous hearing that he was responsible for stabbing to death both Marion and her friend Cathy Dinsmore. The reason why he carried out the double murder is the focus of much speculation.

Cetin’s father, Eyup, is also charged with the killings. Shannon was 15 years old at the time of the crime. She’s now 16.

Shannon climbed the stairs to Court Number 5 on the third floor at ten o’clock local time. After a brief wait, she was admitted to the chamber along with her brother David and members of the Dinsmore family: George, Cathy’s brother; Karin, Cathy’s daughter; and Robert, Cathy’s nephew. Eyup Cetin was already in the dock but Recep didn’t appear. An apparent clerical error had resulted in an instruction not being sent by the court to the prison for Recep Cetin to be present. The trial proceeded without him.

Four judges – two women and two men – entered the chamber. In Turkey, there is no jury system. Instead, up to six judges can preside over a trial. It is they who question the witnesses, with counsel for the prosecution and defence only interjecting at the end. The decision over guilt or innocence is a matter for the judges. The trial is a protracted affair – run in several sittings over a number of months, rather than the Irish system, in which a trial, once begun, continues until a verdict is reached.

The judges first asked Eyup Cetin if he had read the indictment. Apparently illiterate, he had asked another man in prison to read the document to him. The judge inquired if he understood what the indictment said. Cetin replied: ‘I guess so’. Asked if he was responsible for the double murder, Cetin replied simply: ‘No’.

The judges then focused their questioning on the statement Eyup Cetin had made to police.

There were several inconsistencies and the judges had lots of questions. Eyup Cetin had told police that he didn’t know either of the murdered women. How was this possible, the judges asked, when his son was in a relationship with the daughter of Marion Graham. Cetin conceded he did know Marion. Why, the judges asked, was he changing his testimony? Cetin claimed that he had been mistreated by police during questioning. Then he clammed-up.

For more than an hour, the judges went through the statement. Eyup Cetin was questioned about the day of the murder. He re-told how Recep had told him that a ‘Turkish mafia’ had kidnapped Marion and Cathy – a story he also told Shannon. Eyup was asked why, if the women were missing, Eyup Cetin had not brought Recep to police in Izmir? Eyup alluded to “problems” with Izmir police. The judges wanted to know why Eyup had driven his son from Izmir nearly all the way to Kusadasi but stopped just 10 kilometres away whereupon Recep caught a taxi? Eyup said he had to return to Izmir as his shop was being looked after by his other children.

As the questions continued, Eyup Cetin said on occasions that he didn’t understand what was being asked.

His first language is Kurdish but the judges were speaking in Turkish. One judge shot back that his Turkish seemed to be perfect when he was asked an easy question but deteriorated when a difficult question was put to him.

Marion Graham’s daughter Shannon was next to give evidence. She was asked a number of questions which she answered with the help of a translator sitting very close to her. Shannon contradicted Eyup Cetin’s evidence. She told the court,  that he knew both her mother Marion and Cathy Dinsmore. She spoke about her relationship with his son Recep. She said that contrary to media reports, he had not proposed to her. She said Recep had never been violent towards her mother. However, Shannon did say that her mother told her their next holiday would not be to Turkey and that Recep was aware of that. He had been hoping that Shannon would live in Turkey with him. Dressed in a black top and polka dot skirt, she spoke in a low but steady voice, and answered the questions quickly and directly. Eyup Cetin, dressed in a short sleeved cheque shirt, and brown trousers, kept his eyes on the judges as Shannon gave her evidence.

The next witness was Cathy Dinsmore’s brother, George. This was his first trip to Turkey – a place he described as beautiful. In a short testimony, he said his firm belief was that someone other than Recep Cetin had been involved in the murder of the two women. He said he based this on the fact that the bodies of the two women were found more than 30 metres apart. With 2 roads close by, it should have been possible for one of the women to raise the alarm if there had been only one attacker.

Two other witnesses gave evidence but they shed little additional light on the case. A taxi-driver told how he had been due to give a lift to the Cetins but he had been too tired to do so on the day of the murder. Eyup Cetin’s brother also gave evidence, but some of the wild claims he made were ruled by the Judge to have nothing to do with the case before the court.

The judges said that they wanted more evidence about mobile phone communication on the day of the killings, to see if these explained Eyup Cetin’s movements. They also wanted the taxi driver who had taken Recep Cetin to Kusadasi to appear in court. Another witness yet to give evidence will be what’s called the ‘secret witness’, who claims to have seen Eyup Cetin at the crime scene on the day of the murder. In court, the defence lawyer said that there were inconsistencies in this person’s evidence. This is the first time an anonymous witness will give evidence in Izmir – although the practice has been used in Istanbul and Ankara.

It’s expected that scientific evidence will also be considered. The court is still waiting on confirmatory results of bone marrow tests which show that Recep Cetin is not 17 years old as he claimed, but is, in fact, 22. There’s also the important matter of apparent DNA evidence which suggests there was another member of the Cetin family at the crime scene on the day of the murder.

After a hearing lasting more than two and a half hours, the judges decided to adjourn proceedings until the 14th of September. The defence lawyer asked for Eyup Cetin to be released, on the basis that Recep Cetin had already admitted his guilt. The judges dismissed the request and Eyup Cetin was returned to prison. Both father and son are due to testify next time.

Speaking after the hearing, both the Graham and Dinsmore families said they were happy with today’s proceedings.

They are due to return in September – even though returning to Turkey is emotionally fraught.

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