Turkish court fines Interior Ministry 2.5M over femicide negligence

In a precedent-setting verdict, a Turkish court has ordered the Interior Ministry to pay 2.5 million liras in damages for not protecting femicide victim Hülya Şellavcı with due process, as she reported the death threats from her murderer multiple times to the police.

A banner from a Women's Day march reads, "The killers are in our homes."

Duvar English

A court in Turkey’s western province of İzmir ruled that the Interior Ministry was at fault and ordered it to pay 2.5 million Turkish Liras (77,200 dollars) in damages in a case involving the murder of Hülya Şellavcı by her estranged husband Kaffar Yeğin, according to June 8 reporting by the daily BirGün. 

On October 22, 2022, relatives who couldn't reach Hülya Şellavcı found her murdered at her workplace in Bornova. Investigations revealed that she had filed four criminal complaints and obtained restraining orders against Kaffar Yeğin for threats before the murder.

Kaffar Yeğin was charged with the premeditated murder of his spouse, which carries an aggravated life sentence, along with other crimes. 

Additionally, Yeğin faced charges of threatening, insulting, persistent stalking, and simple injury, with a potential sentence of up to 13 years. He was sentenced to a total of five years, five months, and 22 days in prison for these charges.

Yeğin's lawyer appealed the verdict, arguing the absence of criminal elements, while the victim's family sought a harsher sentence. The İzmir court upheld the decision, finding no errors or changes required.

Twelve police officers were also prosecuted for negligence in connection with Şellavcı’s death, facing sentences of three months to one year. On October 17, 2023, Şellavcı’s son-in-law and the family's lawyer, Ensar Aktürk, filed a negligence lawsuit against the Interior Ministry, seeking 2.5 million TL in damages.

Aktürk argued that Şellavcı had repeatedly approached law enforcement and relevant authorities without receiving necessary protection, leading to her death. 

The ministry contended that all actions were conducted per the prosecutor's instructions and that the conditions for administrative liability were not met.

The 3rd Administrative Court of İzmir ruled in favor of the family, ordering the ministry to pay 2.5 million TL in damages to Şellavcı’s daughter, son, mother, and two siblings.

Lawyer Aktürk stated, "The purpose of this lawsuit was to highlight the negligent behavior of the Ministry of Interior's units. This is a rare ruling, underscoring severe administrative negligence and fault.”

The lawyer contended that the law enforcement officers were administratively negligent in their duties while they may not have been criminally liable. Delays in forwarding documents, holding up procedures, and failure to act were emphasized in the verdict, which led to the murder of Şellavcı. 

“Hülya Şellavcı visited five different police stations within 21 days, along with the Prosecutor's Office and the Violence Prevention and Monitoring Center, each time presenting evidence of death threats. Despite this, no preventive measures were taken," Aktürk continued. 

Aktürk also added that the family did not want the compensation to be paid from the state treasury. "We want those responsible to be identified and the compensation to come from them. This money should come out of the pockets of those who were negligent so that everyone will be more cautious in future cases,” he said.

The lawyer added that they were nevertheless glad about the precedent-setting decision, hoping similar decisions will continue to benefit society in the future.