Killers of Nigerian student Kennedy Taomwabwa Dede convicted of murder by Famagusta court

Defendants in the case involving the murder of Nigerian student Kennedy Taomwabwa Dede who was forcibly kidnapped from his home and beaten to death in a lake in Famagusta in January 2018 have been convicted of murder by a court in Famagusta.

In the judgement delivered on Tuesday, January, 26, 3 years after the incident, 5 defendants in the case, Nidai Şanlı, Ozan Körkurt, Onur Körkurt, Simge Dağdur and Zekeriya Kurucu were convicted of "Murder", "Kidnapping", "Serious assault".

In the decision read in the Famagusta High Criminal Court, Nidai Şanlı the gang leader was sentenced to 27 years, Ozan Körkurt 13 years, Onur Körkurt 17 years, Simge Dağdur 13 years, and Zekeriya Kurucu 9 years. 

Nidai Şanlı, who gave sworn testimony in court and was the main actor of the event, drew a different scenario from the statement of witnesses. 

The court found out that Zekeriya Kurucu assisted and participated in the commission of the other defendants, the court said Founder was an accomplice of the other defendants. 

The court drew attention to the fact that Dede was taken from the Kuzenler Apartment in the vehicle belonging to Zekeriya and taken to Çanakkale lake, under the management of Zekeriya, and started from the Founder's Cousins ​​Apartment to Çanakkale lake where the deceased was beaten and left. He said he acted in line with the instructions given to him by defendant Nidai Şanlı.   

On the other hand, the court said Founder which was under pressure and disregarding the allegations was afraid, explaining that Founder could have prevented the crime by refusing to use the subject tool, but did not do so.   

The court continued as follows:   

Zekeriya refrained from doing so, although Nidai Şanlı and the other defendants were in a position to prevent them from committing the crime. In his unsworn statement, Zekeriya stated that he was involved in this crime because he feared Nidai, but there is no such statement in our presence. 

According to the proven facts, Zekeriya watched the events with Burcu Çelik in the Çanakkale lake for 30 minutes when Dede was beaten. While he had the opportunity to escape, he did not. 

After the incident at the pond, it was revealed that they went to Nidai's house, ordered invited pizza and ate pizza together. 

The court emphasized that the prosecution proved that the death of Dede was a result of an unlawful act of the defendants, without reasonable suspicion, and stated that the witness of the incident, the witness of the prosecution, Burcu Çelik, was credible, reliable and unshakable. 

On the other hand, Ozan responded to Burcu's cry saying 'Enough is enough' and hung up the phone.

The court continued: 

Burcu Çelik, who saw what happened from her location safely, was not shaken despite being subjected to strict restraint. Noting that he met with Dede and shouted 'Help me'. Burcu Çelik's statements were confirmed by other witnesses of the prosecution. He honestly spoke about his experiences. No defendant was in a state of favor. Whatever he saw and heard, he chose to tell the court.

Judge Şenol pointed out that the facts of the case had been examined one by one and it was appropriate to punish the defendants separately. She said that although the defendants were young, it was necessary to make an example of them given the seriousness of their crimes.

Kennedy's murder shook the entire North Cyprus causing tension and unrest among international students.

How it happened

28-year-old Kennedy Taomwabwa Dede, an Architecture student at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta was kidnapped by a group of 7 gang members on January, 29 from his residence in Famagusta and taken to the Çanakkale lake in the outskirt of the city where he was seriously beaten and killed.

His body was left half naked with half in the lake.

The suspects
Following the incident, 7 suspects namely; Ozan Korkurt, 18, Zekeriya Founder, 22, Burcu Çelik, 16, Onur Körkurt, 21, Simge Dağdur, 28, Aydan Sel and Nidai Şanlı, 28 were arrested in connection with the murder and charged to court for murder, human abduction and serious assault.

The Investigation
Police investigation later revealed that Kennedy was murdered over 1000TL loan. During the investigation, police said they gathered over 190 statements and testimonies, retrieved deleted messages and screened 142 phone conversations.

Police report said the defendants were all involved in smuggling drugs into the country from abroad and distributing them to sellers and as a result had issues with one of them whom he claimed to be Kennedy.

Two of the accused, Zanlılar Aydan Sel and Burcu Çelik were released on bail following weeks of court appearance and ordered to pay a bail bond over the case of negligence brought against them for not preventing such a serious crime.

Five other accused, Nidai Sanli, Ozan Korkurt, Onur Körkurt, Simge Dağdur and Zekeriya Kurucu, continued to stand trial while in detention. 

According to report by Kıbrıs Postası, Dede was struggling with financial difficulties and had failed a number of his classes because he had been absent. He eventually began dealing in drugs. The newspaper reported that he was killed for failing to pay off his suppliers. 

On how he was killed -
Report said he was beaten up for not paying for the drug substance he had bought to sell. 

In a confession by one of the defendant, Ozan Korkurt, him and his friends Zekeriya Founder, Burcu Çelik, Onur Körkurt, Simge Dağdur and Aydan Sel made a deal with Kennedy, who made the sale after taking drugs from them, but did not pay back the money adding that he would get new drugs and give money for the old debt with new sales. 

Another defendants, said they took Kennedy to their meeting area at the Çanakkale Pond and according to him, they did not intend to kill him. He said they hit him on the head but Kennedy could not withstand it as it was pretty intense and gave up the ghost.

At that time, the incident was being recorded on a phone by another suspect, Aydin Sel who told and sent the video to somebody who then reported the matter to the police.

When Aydan Sel found out that the police were looking for him, he tried to escape to south Cyprus where he was caught by the police.

Report also revealed that Kennedy had been found wandering in the same area where he was killed three weeks before his death and had told police he had been abducted and attacked – but officers were unable to substantiate his claim and did nothing about it.

Nigerian students protest his killing in Famagusta
His death caused great tension among international students and unrest in the region for more than two weeks with series of protest organized by students demanding justice.

Kennedy representing EMU in a sporting event
Kennedy had represented and won medals for the university in several sporting events.

Court hearings
In a November, 2020 court hearing, the police gave the court six statements on the issue.

One of the witnesses who witness the abduction of Kennedy from his apartment said Kennedy had shouted for help while struggling with one of the four people who had kidnapped him.

The witness who is a neighbor to Kennedy told the court that he was standing in his balcony when the whole incident unraveled.

After swearing to the court that he would tell what he knew, the witness said that while he was at home with his wife and children, he went out to the balcony to know what was happening after he heard sounds out side.

He said he saw Kennedy being taken out of the apartment and into a waiting car.

He said he saw one of the men hit Kennedy with anger shouting and issuing a threat, "You will pay the price of this heavy mess."

After that, the whole place was dark and could only hear the echo of Kennedy's voice.

He told the court that he didn't care when he first heard the noise but had to check when the noise kept increasing.

He said he saw three people beat him while he was crying and begging for help. It was after then that Kennedy collapsed and the noise seized.

They then put Kennedy in the car and quickly got away.

They were all men, I couldn't see what they were wearing. They disappeared, the whole neighborhood was on the balcony, we looked at it in shock.

A police officer who testified in court, told the court that he was on duty at the Traffic Investigation Department of Famagusta Police Department when he found out about the incident.

On January 30, 2018, at 6.10pm, I was at the Dardanelles. I saw the corpse lying on his back on the edge of the pond, with his head facing down, half naked from the waist down, his left hand on his forehead, his right hand on his chest, and later I learned that his name was Kennedy T.

Taking the necessary measurements at the scene, I drew the rough outline. Then I took the scale of the sketch and gave it to Inspector Erkan Yahat.

He was killed 32-36 hours before the autopsy time said police witness.

According to forensic report, the victim suffered head and chest trauma, brain hemorrhage as a result of the joint effect of the left pneumothorax.

He also noted that there was a sharp stabbing device and wound.

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