Turkey Jails Man for Life for Syrian Mother, Daughter Murders
A Turkish court has sentenced a man to life in prison for murdering a Syrian opposition activist and her journalist daughter in a crime that shocked the exile community, state media said Wednesday.
Aroubeh Barakat and her 22-year-old daughter Halla Barakat were found dead in their Istanbul apartment in September last year.
Syrian national Ahmet Barakat, believed to be a relative of the victims, was arrested after a police raid and charged with murder.
The court in Istanbul convicted him late Tuesday with premeditated murder, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The judge said in the hearing that DNA evidence collected by forensic reports had incriminated the suspect who denied the charges.
"We had no hostility between us. I did not kill them. I did not even see them," Ahmet Barakat told the court.
Turkey is home to over 3.5 million Syrian refugees -- many of them opponents of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Istanbul alone has half a million Syrian refugees, the largest community in the country.
Halla Barakat had been working for a website called Orient News and had previously worked for Turkish state broadcaster TRT.
Both mother and daughter were well known figures in the Syrian community.
Syrian opposition activists and journalists have repeatedly complained of threats to their security.
The US State Department said after the murders of the pair that it would closely follow the investigation.
Both women were believed to be opponents of Assad and reports said Aroubeh Barakat had carried out investigations into alleged torture in prisons run by Assad.
Two Syrian journalists from the city of Raqa who were opposed to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group were found beheaded in southern Turkey in 2015.
The indictment against Barakat said the killing happened because of a family row and made no mention of any political motive.