Saturday, January 19, 2008

Old Conflicts Between Cousins

The arrest of Fuat Deniz’ confessed killerThe murder early in December of Fuat Deniz, an Assyrian Christian university professor in Sweden, raised concerns that political motives were behind the crime. As I reported last night, the recent arrest shows that this is not the case — see the links at the bottom of this post for all the previous articles on this topic.

Our Swedish correspondent LN read the latest news on the Deniz case in Nerikes Allehanda and has translated excerpts from the article:

Old conflicts between cousins were the reason for the knifing. Not family troubles and not political conflicts, but personal troubles between them, the police information manager Torbjörn Carlson says.

The suspect’s father and Fuat Deniz’ father were brothers. The 42-year-old suspect came from Syria to Sweden twenty years ago. The man is resident in Västra Frölunda in Gothenburg and was not previously known to the police.

The arrest negotiations were held under strict security arrangements. Prosecutor Agneklev explained that he wanted to see the man charged with murder.

The man’s lawyer, who is under a gag order, stated at the arrest negotiations in Örebro District Court on Friday that the 42-year-old actually wanted to tell the police what he had done, and therefore phoned the police after the knife-cutting.

Most of the arrest negotiations were behind closed doors.

Below the jump are the original sentences in Swedish which LN translated for his summary:
- - - - - - - - -
Gamla konflikter mellan kusinerna ska ha varit skälet till knivskärningen. Inte släktbråk och inte politiska konflikter utan bråk mellan dem personligen, säger polisens informationschef Torbjörn Carlson.

Enligt är den misstänktes pappa och Fuat Deniz pappa bröder. 42-åringen kom från Syrien till Sverige för 20 år sedan. Mannen är bosatt i Västra Frölunda i Göteborg och inte tidigare känd av polisen.

Häktningsförhandlingen hölls under stort säkerhetspådrag. Åklagare Agneklev förklarade att han ville se mannen häktad för mord.

Mannens advokat Lena Blixt som har yppandeförbud uppgav vid häktningsförhandlingen i Örebro tingsrätt, på fredagen att 42-åringen verkligen ville berätta för polisen vad han gjort och därför ringt ett telefonsamtal till polisen efter knivskärningen.

Sedan begärde åklagaren stängda dörrar.

Previous Posts about Fuat Deniz:

2007 Dec 15 The Long Arm of the Assyrian Genocide
    16 Silencing Any Discussion of the Assyrian Genocide
    18 Remembering Fuat Deniz
    19 A Political Murder? Unlikely, Says Swedish Expert
    22 Soft-Pedaling the Murder of Fuat Deniz
    25 The Swedish Keystone Cops
    30 Update on the Fuat Deniz Case
2008 Jan 3 Bureaucratic Torpor in Swedish Law Enforcement
    12 Sweden’s Feds Take up the Fuat Deniz Case
    16 The Swedish Police Have “A Person of Interest”
    18 No Turkish Connection for the Fuat Deniz Murder

Hat tip: Paul Green.


Profitsbeard said...

Sounds fishy, and too pat.

More to the story, I'm sure.

X said...

Yeah, the fact that it's cousins... I have cousins in Ireland I have never met, and they're all catholic. My closest cousin is a jehovas witness.

Basically a cousin is only one short step from "an acquaintance" or "someone known to the victim" in most cases. I'd imagine the biggest danger to christians in the muslim world would be from extended family members who are muslim.

Dymphna said...

Profitsbeard --

A policeman friend of mine says they always look to family first.

The strongest ties create both great love and great hatred...who knows what the trajectory of this family tragedy was, and for how long it played out.

I would imagine the two fathers are distraught. How do you ever heal a breach like that?

What is interesting to me is that the assailant made it look like a Muslim killing -- i.e., go for the throat. That's why I believed it was Muslim in origin...that plus the fact that people said Turkish officials were not happy with Deniz' book.

It appears that this story is going to make a book of its own.

Dymphna said...


I diasagree. Cousin relationships can be quite close, especially if you grow up with one another.

When they announced a relative I thought it might be an in-law.Now *that* classification of "relative" can be quite strained indeed. Fortunately, my brother-in-law is a good guy!

laine said...

Cousins are what you make of them. They can be substitute siblings or near strangers. A lot depends on geographical proximity as well as the parent to parent ties i.e. whether the cousins have a chance to bond as children.

Henrik R Clausen said...

I'm glad it ain't politically motivated. This means that other researchers need not fear having their throat slit. I was really worried that there was a political motive and that groups like the Grey Wolves had a reach this far. Good that it ain't the case.

On the other hand, apart from the senseless killing itself, it saddens me that we lost a researcher into something that could have been very interesting and - useful.

Zonka said...

Just because the crime was committed by a family member doesn't mean that it wasn't politically motivated. It could very well be motivated in Mr. Deniz studies, that the cousin felt it caused shame on the family, that possibility shouldn't be overlooked.

X said...

Well... I'm a cynic these days, but if it does turn out that there was no political motivation I'll be pleased too, as much as can be possible in a murder case anyway. We'll see.

Papa Whiskey said...

As one who has repeatedly raised suspicions that Fuat Deniz may have been killed by a jihadist to thwart his efforts to bring to light the genocide carried out by Turkish, Kurdish and Arab Muslims against the Assyrian Christian minority of the Ottoman Empire early in the last century, based on several indicators set forth here, my apprehensions should ostensibly be allayed by this news. While I am perfectly willing to acknowledge having been misled by said indicators if such should prove to be the case, at this point too many questions remain unanswered for me to do so in good conscience. Among these are:

* What was the nature of the conflict between the two first cousins?

* How is it that Fuat Deniz immigrated in childhood to Sweden from Turkey, while the son of his father’s brother did so 20 years ago from Syria?

* Is Fuat’s cousin an Assyrian Christian as he was, or is he of some other faith?

* Why are particulars about the negotiations that led to the suspect’s arrest being kept from the public?

* Why is the suspect’s attorney under an official gag order?

* Why has the police information manager (nice title, that) repeatedly assured the public that “the political motive is no longer valid” in this case, while offering no basis for this assertion?

* Why, if the suspect “actually wanted to tell the police what he had done, and therefore phoned the police after the knife-cutting,” has it taken more than a month to take him into custody? Didn’t the police consider that there might be a risk of flight?

* Why, if it has been known for a month that “the political motive [was] no longer valid,” have Swedish authorities let Fuat Deniz’s colleagues, several of whom have told of threats related to their work in his field, live in fear for their lives?

* Why has the Assyrian diaspora worldwide been left for a month to dread that Fuat Deniz had been the victim of what a senior Assyrian Christian cleric called “dark powers that want to hurt our people” – a clear reference to Turkish Islamists of the sort that assassinated newspaper editor Hrant Dink in Istanbul a year ago today?

The conduct of Swedish authorities in this case may be politely be described as unheroic. If they would dispel continuing apprehensions that there is more to the murder of Fuat Deniz than a family feud, let them address the questions raised above.

1389 said...


I think sometimes it is not such a good thing that the police look to family members first.

In any family, you can find differences and disagreements, some of them quite vehement. This makes it easy to pin a plausible-sounding motive on somebody, and then go looking for evidence that bolsters that hypothesis. They'll go ahead with trying to build that case even though there is no real reason to assume that the family member was actually the kind of person who would commit a homicide.

Meanwhile, the actual killer is somebody with a record of that sort of thing, who was lurking in the area, and who could have been found with some better police work. Reminds me of the Dowaliby case some years back in the Chicago area - they blamed the dad for the child's death, ruined the parents' lives, and then the real perp turned out to be a sicko child molester in the vicinity.