Ziya Tasalı, who is accused of murdering American tourist Sarai Sierra, was referred to the İstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) for mental health testing by an İstanbul court on Tuesday, the first day of his trial.
According to an initial autopsy report from the ATK, Sierra was not sexually assaulted, confirming testimony given by Tasalı during Tuesday's hearing.
Meanwhile, a request by the Family and Social Policy Ministry to be co-plaintiff in the case was accepted by the court.
The İstanbul 5th High Criminal Court on Monday accepted the indictment concerning Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two who was found dead near İstanbul's ancient city walls on Feb. 2, 12 days after her family had reported her missing. She was vacationing alone in the city. The indictment seeks aggravated life imprisonment for Tasalı, known as Laz Ziya, on the charges of premeditated murder. The date of the first hearing has been set for Sept. 3.
Police captured Tasalı, a homeless scrap-paper collector, on March 17 in the province of Hatay near Turkey's border with Syria one-and-a-half months after Sierra's murder.
Tasalı later confessed to killing the tourist, according to İstanbul police. He told the police that after drinking heavily and ingesting drugs on Jan. 21, he saw a woman walking along the ancient city walls in Cankurtaran and tried to kiss her. When she hit him with her mobile phone, the suspect, incensed, found a rock on the ground and began to hit her. According to Tasalı, Sierra fought “for dear life” but he hit her twice on the head. “When I came back in the morning, she was dead and I covered her,” he also said.
Tasalı further recounted that Sierra had come to the area where he had been sniffing paint thinner. “It was around 1:00 a.m. when she came there. I even didn't think that she was an American or a tourist. I thought she was a Turkish woman. It was only after I saw newspapers reporting the disappearance of an American woman that I understood the missing woman was the one who I killed."
Sierra was murdered while vacationing alone in İstanbul, where her family said she visited to do some photography. They last spoke to Sierra on the morning of Jan. 21, the day before she was scheduled to begin her journey home. Sierra never checked into her flight out of İstanbul. Nearly two weeks after Sierra's disappearance, police found her body hidden behind the ancient city walls in the neighborhood of Cankurtaran. According to the police, she was killed by blunt force trauma to the head and, despite the conflicting media reports, was not raped.
Several media organs reported that 150,000 troops from Saudi Arabia would soon be dispatched to Syria through Turkish borders
Deputy prime minister Kurtulmus warns of the worst case scenario
Turkish premier Davutoglu condemns attacks on civilians amid peace talks
'No one should assume that just because Turkey is taking in all the refugees that it should be expected to shoulder the refugee issue alone,' Turkish PM warns
Turkish Prime Minister says Turkey and Germany are to work together for NATO involvement in curbing refugee flow
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said Turkey did not have option to say 'no' to refugees fleeing from bombardments in Syria and Iraq
'We are not in a position to tell them not to come. If we do, we would be abandoning them to their deaths,' says deputy PM
'If they reached our door and have no other choice, if necessary, we have to and will let our brothers in,' President Erdogan says
Erdogan says western powers 'ignore' terrorist actions perpetrated by armed wing of PKK’s Syrian affiliate
Iraqi citizens will no longer be able to enter Turkey with a sticker visa, and instead will need to apply for an electronic or paper visa
'I find this Russian statement laughable... rather it is Russia that is currently engaged in an invasion of Syria,' Turkish president says
Plan includes 'comprehensive democratic reform', greater powers for local administrations and economic measures
Erdogan says Syrians will continue to flee country unless Russian and regime airstrikes cease
Leaders of governments, NGOs and members of civil society met in London on Thursday to raise funds for those affected by crisis in Syria
MPs from all parties meet to reform Turkey’s military-era constitution
‘We have to be shoulder to shoulder against those who are committing war crimes,’ PM Davutoglu says at Syria Donors Conference in London