Buried Alive- The Murder of M.M.

The hole where a 16-year-old girl was buried alive by her relatives in Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey Photograph: HO/REUTERS

Turkish police uncovered the body of a 16-year old girl who was buried alive by the male members of her family for speaking to a boy in an honor killing ritual.

Identified initially as M.M., Medine Memi was found in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a 2m-deep hole dug under a chicken pen, which had been cemented, outside her house in Kahta, a town in the southeastern province of Adıyaman, Southeast Turkey.

A subsequent postmortem examination revealed that Medine had a significant amount of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she was buried alive and conscious, forensic experts told Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday. “The autopsy result is blood-curdling. According to our findings, the girl – who had no bruises on her body and no sign of narcotics or poison in her blood – was alive and fully conscious when she was buried,” one anonymous expert said.

An anonymous caller tipped off the police. The caller said the girl had been bound and buried alive following a family council meeting. She had been missing for 40 days when her body was discovered in December, according to authorities. Her mother was arrested along with the father, Ayhan, and grandfather, Fethi. The mother was released later and has not been charged.

The family has nine children, including the girl, and was reported to have told neighbors that she was missing. The girl complained to the police two months prior to her disappearance, claiming her grandfather beat her because she talked to boys. In fact, “she tried to take refuge at the police station three times, and she was sent home three times,” her mother, Immihan, said after the body was discovered in December. There is nothing to suggest police followed up on the girl’s complaints.

Family councils consist of family elders; honor killings are usually decided by such groups. Official figures estimate that more than 200 of such killings take place each year, accounting for half of all the murders in Turkey.

In December, a British court convicted a Turkish man for the murder of his daughter, Tulay Goren, whose body has still not been found after ten years. He was convicted after his wife gave evidence against him in court. Perhaps Medine’s mother will have the same strength and get justice for her beautiful young daughter.

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