Istanbul’s Fatih district mayor, Mustafa Demir, has expressed his satisfaction with the arrest of M. N., the sole suspect in the investigation of multiple assaults against elderly Armenian women, which resulted in one death.
“Before his arrest there were provocative and discriminative scenarios,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview yesterday. “But the history of these people, who have been living together in Samatya for 550 years, should not be forgotten. No matter if they are Turks, Armenians or Muslims, the fact is there is a petty crime here,” Demir said.
The 38-year-old suspect, who is said to be a Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, was detained March 4. An Istanbul judge later ruled to arrest the suspect.
Demir also said that because the assaulted were all elderly women living alone, it is safe to say the victims were targeted for their vulnerability rather than for their identities. “First of all, as Fatih mayor, I am happy about the arrest of the suspect. Also, I would like to thank Samatya Surp Kevork Church authorities for their calm attitude,” he said.
On Dec. 28, 2012, Maritsa Küçük was stabbed seven times before her throat was slit in her home in Samatya. Two other attacks were carried out in the same month against elderly Armenian women in the Samatya and Bakırköy districts as well. One of the women, 87-year-old Turfanda Aşık, lost an eye, while another was robbed and severely injured. 84-year-old Sultan Akyar was attacked in Samatya and needed eye surgery.
Leading figures of the Armenian community told the Daily News the suspect was not known among the community.
Aşık’s grand daughter-in-law Arev Cebeci said they were following the developments closely.
“At least it seems that the assaults were not race crimes. The suspect is an Armenian who converted to Islam. It is being said that he lives in Samatya and receives aids from the church, but such information does not exist in church records,” Cebeci said. However, he said he still had doubts. “They said it was a robbery attempt but he stole only jewelry that did not have [much] material value,” Cebeci said. Arsen Arşık, a former academic from Boğaziçi University and an acquaintance of two of the victims, called on the public not to regard the attacks as hate crimes.
M.N. was previously convicted of theft on two separate accounts, reports said. He had been staying on the basement floor of a hostel in a nearby neighborhood when he was caught by police.