Ayşe Tuba Arslan was a 45-year-old woman and the mother of two children living in Eskisehir province of Turkey. She was a cook at a kindergarten and was trying to build a new life for herself after getting divorced from her violent ex-husband Yalçın Özalpay.
Arslan was threatened by Yalçın Özalpay many times and was exposed to physical violence by him. She went to the police station and filed a criminal complaint against him 23 times.
People in Turkey became aware of her when she was brutally murdered by Özalpay. She was hit on her head with a chopping knife in October 2019. She was treated at Osmangazi University Faculty of Medicine but could not make it and died 44 days later. It was revealed that Ayşe Tuba Arslan even asked the police officers for help by saying: “Will you protect me from that man after I die?” She was pleading for help, but each time Özalpay was released and in the end, he murdered her.
News of her murder, despite all the criminal complaints she had filed and her pleas for help from the state, led to public outrage. The perpetrator was facing an aggravated life sentence in the trial over Arslan’s femicide. In the lawsuit filed regarding the incident, Eskişehir 3rd High Criminal Court sentenced Özalpay to aggravated life imprisonment for “premeditated murder with monstrous feeling and by tormenting her.”
After the decision was announced and there was a decrease in public attention over her murder, defendant Özalpay filed an appeal and the 2nd Penal Chamber of the Ankara Regional Court of Justice ruled that the perpetrator shall be sentenced to 24 years in prison for “premeditated wilful killing under ‘unjust provocation.'”
On 13 July 2021, the court announced the reason for the decision. According to the 2nd Penal Chamber of the Ankara Regional Court of Justice, Özalpay decided to kill Arslan upon learning that he was being cheated on and after the divorce suit ended, he killed her under the influence of the provocation caused by the victim’s behaviour that was deemed to be contrary to the ‘obligation of faithfulness.’
Pınar Çelik Arpacı, one of the lawyers in the case, evaluated the decision of the appeal and spoke to Mezopotamya Agency (MA).
“On the date of the incident, Ayşe Tuba and the perpetrator were divorced. So there was no obligation of faithfulness. This decision means that women who have been divorced also still have obligations to their ex-spouse. The court is still seeking the obligation of faithfulness to the divorced spouse. This is unacceptable,” she said.
Attorney Arpacı also added that the court took the side of the perpetrator during the investigations: “The divorce case file was investigated after the murder. However, the court went to search for evidence in favour of the defendant but ignored the victim. The court empathized with the perpetrator and decided in his favour. With this decision, the perpetrator will remain in prison for only about 10 years, considering that he has already been behind bars for two years and since he will complete the last two years under probation. In other words, after 10 years, he will be able to walk in the streets freely. He received a punishment like a reward.”
Stating that they will take the file to the Court of Cassation, Arpacı said, “There can be no obligation of faithfulness in a criminal trial. Therefore, we demand that this decision is lifted by the Court of Cassation. If we do not get any result, we will go to the Constitutional Court (AYM). If we can’t attain justice from here, we will take it to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). We will never give up searching to attain justice for that woman,” she said.