Turkish cult member denies child sex abuse charges, says was 'in Allah's service'

A member of a religious cult accused of sexually abusing three children has denied the charges and defended himself by saying that he is "in the service of Allah."

Ardıl Batmaz / DUVAR

A member of the religious cult called "Tebliğ" is facing charges of sexually abusing three children in the Çarşamba Baba Tomb in the eastern province of Elazığ.

The latest hearing was held at the Elazığ 1st Heavy Penal Court on March 15.

The cult member denied the charges and said: “I do not accept any accusations. I am a person who has been serving Allah's religion for 15-20 years.”

The suspect, only known by initials M.K, is accused of taking three children to the tomb between May and June 2019, and sexually abusing them there. After one of the children told the psychologist about the experience, the psychologist reported it to the police. 

The prosecutors are seeking up to 75 years in prison for M.K. 

The suspect was jailed on Dec. 30, 2021 on the grounds of "strong suspicion of crime" in the face of statements by witnesses and suspect.

During his initial interrogation, the suspect reportedly said, "I may have caressed their [children's] heads inside the tomb," but then changed this statement at the hearing. "I caressed their heads outside the tomb. I was busy reading the Qur'an inside the tomb," he told the judges. 

The victimized children's statements were taken at the Child Monitoring Center (ÇİM), where they recalled their experiences. The children said that the cult member had told them to keep what was experienced in the tomb as a secret and not to tell anyone. 

A lawyer from the Ministry of Family and Social Services attended the hearing on behalf of the children. 

The judge decided that the suspect's imprisonment should continue due to the nature of the crime. The hearing was adjourned to April 12.

(English version by Alperen Şen)