Nine Years for Murder

A Turkish man was sentenced to nine years in prison today in Germany for murdering his sister because her "western" way of life dishonored the Islamic ways of the family.   Specifically, the victim Hatun Sürücü, who was born and raised in Germany but who was forced to marry a cousin in Turkey in 1998, refused to return to Turkey after the birth of her son in Germany in 1999.   She moved out of her parents’ apartment in Berlin and got an education as an electrical technician.   So her younger brother, who was 18 years old at the time of the crime on February 7, 2005, shot her several times in the head in the middle of the street to defend his family’s Islamic honor.  He premeditated the crime for months.  So he was sentenced by a German court to nine years in prison.

And yet the Germans view America as barbaric because such a murderer would likely face the death penalty if a crime of that nature were committed in this country.

A Member of the European Parliament belonging to the Green party aptly criticized the judgment by pointing out that it only encourages such Islamic "honor killings" to be performed by the youngest members of the family because they will face such light punishment:

„Wenn man weiß, daß solche Mordurteile im Familienrat gefällt werden und der Jüngste ausgesucht wird, weil man bei ihm das geringste Strafmaß erwartet, dann sendet dieses Urteil das falsche Signal in die Gesellschaft.“

There is so much wrong with this that it is difficult to know where to start.  To begin with, can justice possibly be served with such a sentence in this case?  Also, does Islam condone such honor killings or not?  If it does, what is society to do about it?  (And this is to say nothing of the forced marriage to her cousin.)

3 Responses to Nine Years for Murder

  1. Positroll says:

    1. The youngest brother was convicted under juvenile law which allows a maximum prison term of 10 years. He got 9 years and 3 months. Not what I would call a lenient court …
    For criminals between 18 and 21, juvenile law has to be applied if (a) the criminal has to be considered a juvenile psychologically or (b) the crime as such is a typical juvenile act.
    The question whether it is a particular bad crime is of no legal relevance to this decision, and in my opinion rightfully so.
    In the present case, I think the court picked (a), but if one assumes as you do that parents and/or elder brothers pressured him to commit the crime, application of juvenile law is required by option (b) (good kids do what their elders tell them) …
    And yes, I think a maximum term of 10 years for juvenile offenders is way better than e.g. state sanctioned killing of children (or people who were children when they committed their crime), as was the situation in (parts of) the US before the recent Supreme Court ruling …

    2. Two older brothers were also on trial, primarily based on a witness who said that someone told her that one of the accused had said that they were in it together. The youngest brother testified that he did it alone. The judge considered it likely that the elder brothers participated in the preparations but found that their guilt could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt, notably because the youngest was also the most religious / fanatic of the brothers so it was possible that he came up with the idea himself. That’s called fair trial over here. Considering that such evidence couldn’t even have been brought in the US (hearsay), your disdain for the German justice system seems improper. Appeal will be brought by the prosecutors office, anyway …

  2. john f. says:

    You see, to my “barbaric” American mind, an 18 year old is not a “child” but rather an adult, and the actions of this adult were long premeditated, thus meriting far harsher punishment than 9 years playing video games and watching pornography in a German prison.

    By the way, no need for the lecture on sentencing juvees under German law. I am aware that the reason for the lax sentence is because the court was constrained based on the maximum sentence a juvee can get. My point is that when an 18 year old adult murders his sister because it is demanded by his Islamic faith (or for any other reason, for that matter), he needs to be sent somewhere where he will never be seen again (if the death penalty is completely off the table).

    I am also aware of the charges and the proceedings against the older brothers. They faced life in prison for the crime — a much more reasonable outcome. I also know about the evidence against the brothers and I agree with the court’s findings about their involvement. (Explain why it is that you seem to assume that I do not or simply cannot know the legal background and context to this issue?)

    Now, if only the ADULT perpetrator could get life in prison — then justice would be served. As for the outcome of nine years hanging out in a German juvee “prison,” you may find it reasonable, but I agree with the the Green European MP about the potential policy result of decisions such as this.

  3. lief says:

    “Also, does Islam condone such honor killings or not? If it does, what is society to do about it?”

    Is this a useful way of thinking about Islam? Since Islam, like Judaism, Hinudism, Busshism, etc. does not have a central chain of authority, it can be many things to many people. The Turkish borthers may have legitimately thought that Islam condones such honor killings, but does that mean that Islam really “does” anything?

    It seems that the Left in Europe will continue to struggle with choosing between the ideals of universal human rights vs. cultural self-policing (relativism).

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