Police raided the Palu family’s house in Kocaeli province on Jan. 9 as one of the key figures, Tuncer Ustael, was also detained as he was hosted by TV personality Müge Anlı, who investigates cold cases on her live show on private broadcaster ATV.
According to local media reports, the family members in the house were detained on charges of aiding and abetting Ustael in multiple murders and sexual assault. Anlı and her guests in the studio applauded as the detentions were watched live.
“We are innocent. We didn’t bury anyone,” Ustael’s wife Emine told journalists as she was taken to the police center with her husband.
Hours after police officers put handcuffs on Ustael on live broadcast as millions of viewers watched, the prosecutor’s office imposed a publication ban on news about the ongoing investigation.
The allegations had said that Ustael, who had married into the family in 2008 and introduced himself as an Islamic “hodja who can control jinns,” had converted most of the Palus into ardent followers of his personal cult, before directing the murder of three familymembers and raped at least four children.
In the decade-long saga, Ustael was convicted only once for coercion in seizing the assets of a skeptical family member, as even more serious charges like murder and pedophilia were dropped in 2014 after the man’s four alleged accomplices in the family testified to protect him.
The allegations had resurfaced after two family members came up and appeared on Anlı’s show last month.
Daily broadcasts on the issue have been going on in recent weeks and the police moved on Jan. 9 as a mother and her daughter in the family are still missing.
Meanwhile, three Palus remain hospitalized in mental institutes following the alleged torture sessions, as psychiatry professor Ahmet Ertan Tezcan told Demirören News Agency on Jan. 9 that recent broadcasts hint that Ustael “may have a shared psychotic disorder.”