Tugce Albayrak: Germany calls for President to grant posthumous award to student

Ms Albayrak’s tragic fate prompted thousands to take part in candlelit vigils across Germany on Saturday

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The Independent Online

Germany’s President today faced a growing 100,0000-strong chorus of demands to grant a posthumous bravery award to Tugce Albayrak, the 23-year-old female student who was beaten to death in a shocking attack after stopping a group of men harassing two women.

Ms Albayrak’s tragic fate prompted thousands to take part in candlelit vigils across Germany on Saturday after her parents asked doctors to turn off her life support machine on being told their daughter was brain dead and would never regain consciousness.

One of the biggest was in Berlin’s largely Turkish Kreuzberg district. Ms Albayrak was of Turkish descent.

The young woman died in hospital in the town of Offenbach on Friday. It was her 23rd birthday. By Sunday evening, more than 100,000 people were reported to have signed an online petition asking Germany’s President, Joachim Gauck, to award her Germany’s national order of merit in recognition of her bravery.

President Gauck was said to be seriously considering the request: “Where other people looked the other way, Tugce showed exemplary bravery and civil courage and came to the aid of a victim of violence,”  he wrote in a letter of condolence to Ms Albayrak’s  parents. 

Ms Albayrak went to the aid of two women she heard screaming for help in a McDonald’s restaurant toilet in Offenbach on 15 November. According to media reports, she was subsequently brutally attacked with a bat by one of the men who had been harassing the women.

An 18-year-old man, reportedly of Serbian origin, was on Sunday said to have admitted carrying out the attack. He is in police custody and is under investigation for manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm.

Germany’s mass circulation Bild newspaper said it had seen footage taken by security camera in the Offenbach McDonald’s which showed a young man and what appeared to be two of his friends harassing two girls in the restaurant toilet.

The paper said a subsequent video showed a scene in the restaurant car park in which the attacker at first climbed into a car, but then got out. A bystander then tried to restrain him and a fight ensued.

The attacker then approached Ms Albayrak and struck her. “The blow was so hard that Tugce falls over and her head bangs on the ground. She lies on the ground motionless,” Bild wrote.