Several members of the Palu family have been hosted by TV personality Müge Anlı, who investigates cold cases on her show on private broadcaster ATV, titled “Müge Anlı ile Tatlı Sert.”
According to a series of testimonies, the Palu family’s nightmare started when a man named Tuncer Ustael married Emine Palu in the western province of Kocaeli more than a decade ago.
Ustael introduced himself to his new family as an Islamic “hodja who can control jinns,” converting most of the Palus into ardent followers of his personal cult.
Only two family members, Emine’s father Harun and her brother-in-law Ahmet, did not believe that Ustael could really control jinns.
With a motive to seize the family’s properties, Ustael is now accused of instigating his wife’s brother İsa to kill Ahmet, which he did.
Harun Palu then took responsibility for the murder in order to save his son from jail, and was sentenced to more than six years in prison.
Three murders, four children raped
Eliminating two of the “non-believers” in the family, Ustael found the field wide-open.
By claiming that he was told to do so by his jinns, Ustael has been raping four children in the family, including his own, as told by his wife and his sister-in-law, Meryem. He was also torturing members of the family with horrific methods, such as pricking their sensitive parts with needles.
One of the children, Recep, managed to escape and went to the police, but was given back to the family because all of their members, under the influence of the so-called hodja, had assured the authorities that the kid was actually confused because he was kidnapped by “unidentified masked men.”
As rape and torture sessions continued, Ustael also allegedly starved Meryem to death and raped her 6-year-old daughter before poisoning her. The mother and her daughter are still missing after almost a decade.
Meanwhile, Ustael focused on his father-in-law’s sister Gülbahar Sadık to seize her house, too.
When the woman was not intimidated by his “jinns,” Ustael took several of his followers in the Palu family and assaulted her with pepper spray in order to get her legal approval for the transfer of the property. Sadık sued Ustael, which led to the only legal conviction that he received so far.
‘None of us knows where we are heading’
Father-in-law Harun Palu was released from prison in 2011 and tried to mobilize law enforcement to stop Ustael. However, his own family supported the “hodja,” leading to a nervous breakdown that sent the old man into a mental institute where he still stays.
Both of Ustael’s children have lost their mental health and remain hospitalized, according to the program, while at least four members of the Palu family are accused of being his partners in crime.
Despite the severity of the allegations and frequently conflicting statements, Ustael is still being hosted on the television program, accusing others of killing three people and claiming that his mother-in-law “knows it all.”
Lacking a legal investigation as of Jan. 7, Turkish television personality Müge Anlı’s own team has been following the clues and even making excavations to find the missing bodies in Kocaeli.
“A systematic ignorance and normalization of violence is the pillar of self-confidence seen in criminals,” Hürriyet columnist Kanat Atkaya wrote on Jan. 8.
“We are trying to break free from a chain of crimes in which we are lost as we struggle to understand the Palu family on television screens. When we put a distance with them, we see a lie built on social values,” Atkaya added. “None of us knows where we are heading to anymore.”