Saturday, June 28, 2014

Turkey: Update--Homeless Man, 47, Sentenced to Life for Murder of US Tourist Sarai Sierra, 33

According to, a Turkish homeless person who admitted to killing US tourist Sarai Sierra, 33, last year in Istanbul, who said that she had resisted his kiss, was found guilty of murder on Tuesday  (June 24) and sentenced to life in prison.

The defendant, Ziya Tasali, 47, a homeless collector of scrap paper, had confessed to killing Sarai Sierra, 33, a mother of two who was on her first solo trip abroad to pursue her interest in photography when she encountered her assailant during a walk across the Old City walls of Istanbul in January 2013.

Sierra disappeared a day before she was to return home, prompting a search by Turkish and US authorities that lasted nearly two weeks. 

Sierra's husband, Steven D. Sierra, from whom Sierra was estranged during her trip abroad, would eventually join in the search which ended when the police found the victim's bludgeoned body hidden behind the ancient walls in Istanbul’s Fatih district.

Mr. Sierra identified his wife in an Istanbul morgue. 

COMMENT: As I have said so often in the past, it is never a positive development when one or both partners of a marital union chooses to travel abroad solo, thinking it will solve the discourse that one or both partners is experiencing.

Just as I have said so often that traveling abroad  together never successfully addresses marital challenges a couple is encountering. 

What is almost always warranted is reputable and competent counselors experienced in the dysfunction of marriages whatever the cause. At least for Sarai, the availability of counseling is what she most needed, yet it was blatantly unavailable and out of reach.

As a retired US Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO), all marriages between spouses who do not have access to professional counselors abroad who speak their language as a native tongue, almost always result in marital alienation, physical and emotional abuse, infidelity, sexual misconduct and related crimes which eventually results in the ending of a marriage that might well have been salvagable.

In the majority of cases, traveling abroad solo usually ends up further complicating the dynamics transpiring between a couple to the point that one or both parties ends up violating their marriage vows.

According to Mr. Sierra, he believes his wife, Sarai, compromised her marriage vows before her homicide at the hands of Ziya Tasali in January 2013.

Mr. Sierra, reached by telephone in New York City, said that he did not know how he felt about the verdict but that he wished Mr. Tasali well. 

In court on Tuesday, Tasali denied raping Ms. Sierra. The Istanbul Fifth High Criminal Court handed down an additional seven-year sentence for assault and theft.

In an earlier statement provided to the court, Tasali said he had been sniffing paint thinner and was under the influence of its fumes when he first saw Ms. Sierra. 

According to the statement, he attempted to kiss her at which point she resisted him, resulting in a struggle between the two of them eventually resulting in her death.