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Investigation Into Murder of Assyrian Researcher in Sweden May Have Been Botched

On Tuesday, December 11, university lecturer Fuat Deniz held open a door in a friendly gesture. A moment later he was fallen to the floor from a single cut to the neck. He died on Thursday.

The day after Dr. Deniz's throat had been slit I travelled to Örebro to find that none of the family had been offered security or any other form of support. Both members of the family and friends of Fuat Deniz, most of whom are academics, have seen that several mistakes have been made by the police. Those that have been called in to make statements by the police were shocked at the lack of experience shown and by the interview techniques employed.

At the university I tried to get an idea as to whether there had been threats made in regards to Fuat Deniz. I stood in the doorway to his office and wondered whether I should go in or not. His colleagues, however, explained that the room had not been sealed, that it had been cleaned and that other people had already been there. I entered to find that the police had taken his computer. His car keys, cigarettes and post, however, still lay on the desk. Three of his colleagues had not even been asked to give statements and one of the colleagues, who has researched the same subject as Fuat Deniz, was also living under the threat of violence. He called the police and offered to make a statement regarding the threats he had received. When he left the police station, he was shocked at the interviewers' lack of knowledge regarding ethnic, political and religious clashes.

I travelled to Dr. Deniz's home. His wife asked me to examine his study. The police had taken his computer here also. I saw a business card that should have held interest for the police and Dr. Deniz's wife opened the draw to his desk, where there were diaries from the last five years. At the same time we heard on the radio that the police were doing all they could to build a picture of Dr. Deniz. The doorbell rang. His wife became nervous. The police had not offered her any form of protection. It was another friend that had been to the police station to make a statement, and who, like the others, was disappointed with the interrogation.

On the radio, the police explained that the picture taken of a man covered in blood, who entered a shop the same day that Dr. Deniz was murdered, was unable to be used. When I read my e-mail I saw that a specialist who could clean up problematic close circuit pictures had contacted the police and offered his help. I received a carbon copy of the e-mail. The expert didn't want the police to remove the picture as evidence before he could analyse it and he is one of the best in the world at analysing these kind of pictures. That evening the police still hadn't contacted him. 48 hours had passed. I rang the specialist. He felt ignored and humiliated. The National Criminal Police Corps have used his competence but it seemed the Örebro police deemed his experience unnecessary.

Rumours of who could have murdered Fuat Deniz have spread like wildfire over the whole world and many human rights activists, people searching after the truth, and researchers who originate from the Middle East are today scared and shocked. "I've not left home since that day" and "my brother has moved in with me" both a prominent writer and a well known historian have said.

We are many who hope that what happened is an act of madness, as anything else would be very difficult to live with. Dr. Deniz once wrote 'Democracy is not a fixed entity, it requires action'. The Örebro police need to act.

On December 20 I discovered that the police in Örebro had eventually asked The National Criminal Police Corps murder commission for help. I called the police to find that the head of information is on holiday. A woman answered and explained that the prosecutor in charge of the investigation was not there either as he is sick and has no deputy. She explained that the police in Örebro will be reducing the number of police on duty over the coming holiday period.

I asked how the work was going, and as to whether they were making progress. The answer was: "We have no Columbo here, covering all bases, but we have competent staff." In regards to my question as to whether they had sealed off Dr. Deniz's office at work, she answered that she didn't know but didn't believe they had. She didn't know why they had contacted the murder commission either. "We believe that we are competent enough that we don't need them yet, that's why we will work together after New Year. They too have a heavy schedule." At The National Criminal Police Corps they say "Those that work at The National Criminal Police Corps murder commission have taken their Christmas holiday and won't return until the second of January. They have their holidays and they definitely deserve it as they are never home."

Yes, they certainly deserve it but Fuat Deniz's family, friends, colleagues and all those searching for the truth surely also deserve a professional investigation. Someone, I don't know who, but someone must make sure that the police in Örebro receive all the help they need immediately, regardless of what time of year it is.

By Nuri Kino

The Swedish version of this article is here.

Nuri Kino is a journalist in Sweden specializing in investigative journalism, and is one of the most highly awarded journalists in Europe (CV). He is an Assyrian from Turkey. His documentary, Assyriska: a National team without a Nation, was awarded The Golden Palm at the 2006 Beverly Hills Film festival.

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