You can see helicopters over Istanbul daily for all sorts of reasons, but yesterday, there was a “Cem Garipoğlu alarm”. Cem Garipoğlu is a young guy suspected of killing his 18 year old girlfriend Münevver Karabulut earlier this year, in March, and ever since he has been on the run. Somebody phoned the Istanbul police yesterday because he said he saw Cem in a black jeep, so the police immediately put a helicopter in the air to help find the car. In the end, it turned out to be a false alarm.
So once again, the Garipoğlu and Karabulut case was in the news. Since March, the newspapers have found a reason to write about it on a daily basis. And there are indeed some interesting aspects to the case. The murder was horrible: she was stabbed to death, her head was cut off and she was left in a garbage container, her head packed separately in an empty guitar cover. Münevver is from an average Istanbul family, but Cem is not: the Garipoğlus are filthy rich. They have passports from different countries, part of the family lives in Russia and Cem has a French passport too. It is believed by ‘the public’ that Cem Garipoğlu was protected by people in high places at the request of his family, He could be in any country now, but it could just as well be that he is still in Istanbul or somewhere else in Turkey.
Münevver’s father has been on practically every TV show in the country, from the serious ones to the cheap tear-jerkers. The family is of course devastated and want nothing more than Cem brought to court. But because of the special characteristics of the case – the brutality of the murder and Cem’s rich family – things have got out of balance. Last week the parliamentary human rights commission promised to dig into the case, and now an Istanbul CHP mayor has promised the Karabuluts legal help, since their lawyers retired from the case two months ago.
It’s good for the family that everybody takes so much interest in their daughter, but I can’t stop thinking about families who lost a loved one in a more ‘ordinary’ way. ‘Just’ stabbed to death by a crazy guy, strangled by a burglar, killed by a boyfriend with an unknown last name from a poor family. Victims with families that know less about how to deal with the media. Parliamentary commissions and politicians should not get involved in an individual case with a high media profile: they are there to make policies and laws that make sure the police do their work properly and that the justice system functions equitably for everybody. There are still many uncertainties about the way the Garipoğlu case has been handled, but it could be that if the system worked properly, he would have been behind bars already.