Friday, December 18, 2009

Honor Killing: Why did police send Tulay Goren home to die by her violent father? (United Kingdom)

Dad MEHMET GOREN has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for the "honor killing" of his daughter. But I suspect that the usual police bumbling, incompetence, stupidity (and corruption?) in investigating the father's abuse before the murder and responding to the girl's pleas for help will probably go unpunished.

Honour killing: why did police send Tulay Goren home to die by her violent father?

Tulay Goren, the Muslim schoolgirl murdered by her father in an "honour killing" repeatedly told police in the days before her death how she was being threatened and assaulted.

By John Bingham
Published: 7:00AM GMT 18 Dec 2009

Tulay and her family were in contact with officers nine times over a 10-day period just before her death, as she continued to be assaulted by her violent father, Mehmet Goren.

Police are now facing calls for an investigation into "missed opportunities" and claims that they "failed miserably" to prevent the murder, it can be disclosed.

It came as Tulay’s father, Mehmet Goren, was jailed for 22 years for her murder in a case which exposed the practice of honour violence in Britain.

Jailing Goren, Mr Justice Bean said that the term “honour killing” was a “grotesque distortion” of the language. “There is nothing honorable about such a hideous practice or the peope who carry it out,” he said.

Although the police investigation into Tulay’s death is being hailed as a landmark, it can now be disclosed that there were a series of 'missed' opportunities that could have helped save Tulay’s life in 1999.

In the weeks before her disappearance, Tulay:

:: Ran away from home twice.

:: Personally reported two attacks by her father, while her boyfriend also reported an assault.

:: Asked to be sent to a children’s home rather than go back to her family.

:: Requested that officers note down her assault complaints down in case of future attacks.

Meanwhile, her male relatives complained to police about her boyfriend, saying that he was “pestering” her prompting warnings not to take matters into their own hands.

Goren even went to the police demanding his daughter underwent a virginity test – an act which experts in honour killing said should itself have sounded “alarm bells”.

When Tulay refused to go home, police divulged her whereabouts to her family and allowed them to persuade her to return to them. Although she later run away again, she was lured home three weeks later and disappeared the next day.

The Old Bailey was told how Tulay, an Alevi Muslim, came to Britain at the age of 12 from the Kurdish region of southern Turkey.

Desperate for a 'way out', she became besotted with Halil Unal when she met him at the clothes factory where she worked during the school holidays. She told a friend she may have been pregnant.

But she was assaulted repeatedly by her father, who was angered by her relationship with Mr Unal, who was twice her age and a Sunni Muslim.

The Alevi minority has long claimed to have suffered persecution from the Sunni majority in Kurdish Turkey because of their less mainstream form of Islam.

Tulay was said to be in love with her boyfriend, but to her father the affair made her a "worthless commodity" because he could not marry her off for £5,000.

She ran away several times, to be with her boyfriend, telling him her father had tortured her, before being dragged back home on January 6, where Goren beat her and tied her up. In despair, she told her mother she wanted to die.

The following day, Goren, a part-time fish and chip shop worker, told his eight-year-old son Tuncay to kiss Tulay goodbye as he would never see his sister again.

How Tulay was killed remains a mystery but detectives believe Goren may have smothered her or strangled her with the washing line.

After she was killed, it is thought Tulay's body was buried in the garden of the family home before being dug up and disposed of.

Senior officers at the Metropolitan Police now acknowledge that there may have been "tell-tale" signs that could have saved the schoolgirl.

It is claimed officers may have actually put Tulay in even greater danger by allowing her family to take her home after she had complained about violence at the hands of her father, a convicted criminal.

Experts on 'honour killings' said that events in the run-up to her disappearance of Tulay should have “screamed” for something to be done.

A failure to recognise the warning signs - including the nine separate contacts with police - meant that opportunities to save her life were missed, they claimed.

It can also be disclosed that Goren, who served time in jail in Turkey and Saudi Arabia for theft before he came to Britain with his family seeking asylum in 1996, had attempted to murder members of his family before.

Relatives have told how he once attempted to gas his wife, Hanim, and children while they slept. He also tried to force Hanim to drink poison.

Two specialists on honour killings have suggested that police may have put Tulay in even greater danger by allowing her family to take her home after she had complained about violence.

They said that the case bore striking similarities to that of Banaz Mahmood, a young Kurdish woman whose murder in 2006 highlighted a catalogue of missed opportunities.

A culture of political correctness, with officers afraid to intervene for fear of being accused of racism, may also have played a part, they claimed.

“They failed Tulay miserably and the sad fact is it will happen again,” said Jasvinder Sanghera, an author and expert witness in honour violence cases.

“It just screams the profile of a victim of the kind that we see day in day out."

Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), which deals with hundreds of cases of honour-based violence and intimidation every year, added: "There were many missed opportunities that could have been taken to protect her and they didn’t."

She added: “There is no doubt about it, if police had acted differently and if police had known how to deal with honour killing cases she would be alive today

“They should not have contacted her family to say that she was in the police station, they should not have invited the family to come and visit her, they never should have disclosed any information about her whereabouts to her family.

“By disclosing and sharing information with the family they simply made the situation even more dangerous for her.”

The conviction of Goren followed a police investigation which saw detectives travel eventually to Kurdistan to learn about honour killings. Turkish psychiatrists were then brought to give evidence on the issue as expert witnesses in a British court for the first time.

Their findings, coupled with a greater understanding of 'honour' violence, persuaded the Crown Prosecution Service to overturn a decision 10 years ago not to bring charges against Mehmet Goren over Tulay's disappearance.

It was only after greater awareness of the phenomenon of honour killings, that a new team of detectives began a reinvestigation five years ago. In a ground-breaking investigation, police travelled to Kurdistan to learn about local "honour codes" as they built their case.

Scotland Yard has denied that mistakes had been made but added the police had been on a “significant journey” in the last 10 years and now had new procedures in place to pick up warning signs.

DCI Gerry Campbell, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Community Safety unit, said: “I am confident that those tell-tale risk indicators around honour based violence would (now) be identified by investigators, front line staff and their managers.”

However, there are understood to be no plans for an internal review of the case and it has never been referred to the police watchdog, the IPCC.