A Turkish court handed down a historic prison sentence of 217 years, four months, and 15 days to a Quran assistant instructor this week for kidnapping and sexually abusing nine of his students between the ages of nine and 13.
On July 25, a court in the Black Sea province of Giresun sentenced the rapist Halil Ibrahim U., who was working at the Alucra Boys Boarding School to teach the students to recite the Quran by heart, reports Hurriyet Daily News.
“Sebinkarahisar Heavy Penal Court handed down a record sentence, more than 217 years of imprisonment in total, on charges of ‘sexual abuse of children’ and ‘depriving them of their freedom,’” adds the news outlet.
Authorities briefly detained the defendant on August 23, 2016, following complaints filed by the families of the victims.
He was ultimately arrested a few days later, on August 30, 2016.
Citing the “children’s interest,” the chief public prosecutor’s office in Giresun decided to close the hearings to the public.
In 2016, Turkey decided to lower the age of consent in Turkey to 12, prompting international outrage.
International conventions dictate that every individual under the age of 18 is a “child.”
Nevertheless, Turkey’s “Constitutional Court has ruled to annul a provision that punishes all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 as ‘sexual abuse,’ stirring outrage from academics and women’s rights activists who warn that the decision will lead to cases of child abuse going unpunished,” reported Hurriyet last year.
In November 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party proposed legislation that would have allowed those who rape children to be pardoned for the crime as long as they marry the victim.
The bill would have resulted in the pardoning of some 3,000 child rapists, but the Turkish parliament dropped the proposal in response to criticism.
The July 25 verdict is the second high-profile sentence this month imposed for the sexual abuse of children in Turkey.
On July 13, a court in the Turkish province of Aegean sentenced a retired elementary school teacher to 82 and a half years in prison for “consecutively sexually abusing” six female students between the ages of six and 11. The teacher reportedly forced them to “watch porn” while he was on duty three years ago, revealed Hurriyet.
Authorities identified the defendant as Adil Sahinturk.
“Consciences have been eased with this decision taken today … The rate of sexual abuse in schools is 73 percent. My request from teachers is that they should not be afraid to reveal such crimes. My children have suffered a lot,” Saadet Ozkan, who worked in the same school as the suspect and pushed for a heavy sentence, told journalists following the ruling.
The prosecutor proposed a 235-year sentence, but the court opted for 82.5 years.
“As an honorable person, I cannot serve a punishment even for 20 minutes, let alone 235 years,” proclaimed the defendant Sahinturk who denies the accusations.