Father killed girl 'to restore so-called honour'

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The Independent Online

A 15-year-old Muslim girl was murdered by her father and his two brothers in an ‘honour killing’ after they objected to her relationship with a man twice her age, a court heard today.

Tulay Goren was allegedly killed and buried in the back garden of her home in Woodford Green, north London in 1999 after her family learned she was involved with 30-year-old factory worker Halil Unal.

The Old Bailey heard that Ms Goren was murdered by her father, Mehmet Goren, 49, after consultation with a ‘family council’ that included his brothers Ali, 55, and Cuma. The three men, the court was told, also planned to kill Mr Unal, 42, but he was warned of this plot by his girlfriend hours before she died.

Opening the case for the prosecution Jonathan Laidlaw QC told the jury that the men viewed Ms Goren as a “worthless commodity” after learning that she had lost her virginity to Mr Unal and so could not be married off in exchange for money.

But despite more than a decade having passed since the alleged honour killing, the girl’s body has never been found and the case has only been brought to court now after the girl’s mother agreed to testify against her husband.

The prosecution alleges that Ms Goren was murdered on 7 January 1999 – three years after she entered Britain from her Kurdish homeland in eastern Turkey as an illegal immigrant, and seven months after she met Mr Unal.

The apparent motive was that the Goren brothers felt Ms Goren had brought shame upon the family by starting a relationship with Mr Unal, who was not only much older than her, but was also from a different branch of the Muslim religion than that to which they belonged. He was a Sunni, they were Alevi Muslims.

The court heard that the Ms Goren refused to end the relationship and eventually ran away from home on 14 December 1998 to live with Mr Unal in Hackney, east London. She stayed there with until 6 January 1999 when Mehmet Goran arrived at Mr Unal’s house to ‘kidnap’ his daughter.

It was the last time Mr Unal saw his girlfriend alive. The court was told that, because the body has never been found, it is not known how Ms Goren was killed.

But the jury will hear evidence from the girl’s mother, Hanim. She will tell the court how her husband told her that their daughter had run away from home while he went out for food.

In the days that followed the disappearance, Mrs Goren noticed scratches and a wound on her husband’s hands. She also noticed that two knives were missing from the kitchen as was a roll of black bin liners.

Mrs Goren also says she noted that her husband washed the shirt he had been wearing the day their daughter disappeared. Mr Laidlaw explained: “In their entire married life the defendant had never previously washed a single piece of clothing.”

Finally Mrs Goren will tell the jury that the morning following the disappearance she saw that the back garden had been dug up.

Her husband said he was intending to plant onions and flowers, but Mr Laidlaw added: “By that time they had lived at [their home] for five years and he had never planted vegetables before. He did not even own gardening tools and, when asked, the defendant told his wife he had used a meat cleaver to turn the soil over.”

The three men are also charged with plotting to kill Mr Unal. After ‘kidnapping’ Ms Goren, Mehment, according to the prosecution, forced his daughter to phone Mr Unal and arrange for him to come to their home to collect her.

Mr Unal was wary and refused. Later he received another call from the girl who told him: “Don’t come here, they are trying to lure you into a trap.”

Days later Mr Unal, who was not aware that his girlfriend was, according to the prosecution, already dead, did agree to meet with Mehmet Goren. At that meeting he was stabbed in the back with an axe.

Mehmet Goren was convicted of wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm in 2001 but the prosecution now alleges that the attack was arranged by all three defendants and is evidence of a conspiracy to murder Mr Unal.

All three men deny murder and conspiracy to murder. The trial continues.