Former politician’s son gets suspended sentence for spousal violence

Photo: Canva

Mert Çiller, the son of former Turkish prime minister Tansu Çiller, was handed down a suspended sentence and fine for willful injury and threats against his estranged wife, Zeynep Çiller, the Evrensel newspaper reported on Friday.

Çiller received a suspended sentence of six months for issuing threats and a suspended fine of TL 4,500 ($140) for deliberate injury, according to the report.

During the court proceedings, Zeynep Çiller documented the violence she suffered with a series of photos, a medical report issued by the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) and witness statements.

Last year Mert Çiller was sentenced to three months of detention in an attempt to compel him to pay his wife the temporary alimony set by the court.

The couple is also in the midst of divorce proceedings.

There have also been allegations that Tansu Çiller had used the couple’s children to threaten her daughter-in-law.

Tansu Çiller, a right-wing politician who served as Turkey’s first female prime minister in the 1990s, has recently returned to prominence with her outspoken support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government.

Femicides and violence against women are chronic problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten almost every day.

Another Evrensel report said a woman named Neşe Gülmüş was murdered on Thursday evening in the southwestern province of Muğla by her husband, Vedat Gülmüş, with whom she was in the middle of a divorce.

According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 315 women were murdered by men and 248 women died under suspicious circumstances throughout 2023.

Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.

Turkish courts have repeatedly drawn criticism due to their tendency to hand down lenient sentences to offenders, claiming that the crime was “motivated by passion” or by interpreting victims’ silence as consent.

In a move that attracted national and international outrage, Erdoğan through a presidential decree pulled the country out of an international treaty in March 2021 that requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was opened to the signature of Council of Europe member countries in 2011.

Erdoğan’s allies have been calling for further rollbacks, urging the repeal of a domestic law that stipulates protection mechanisms for women who either have suffered or are at risk of suffering violence.

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