A husband was sentenced to life in prison for pushing his heavily pregnant wife off a cliff in order to collect a life insurance policy.
Judges at Fethiye High Criminal Court in southern Turkey told Hakan Aysal, 40, on Tuesday that he must spend at least 30 years before he can be considered for release.
The court previously heard that Aysal shoved his wife Semra, 32, from a 1,000ft cliff at Butterfly Valley, a beauty area about 10 miles south of Fethiye, in June 2018.
Aysal had lured his wife, who was scared of heights, to the edge of the cliff under the guise of taking a photo before pushing her over. He then attempted to grab a £40,000 insurance claim from a policy he took up just before she died.
When Aysal tried to make a claim on the policy just days after Semra died, police were alerted to the mysterious death.
Aysal, who initially denied the crime, attempted to appeal on the grounds of insanity after being convicted guilty several weeks ago – but medics have subsequently deemed him sane.
On October 24, he was taken back to court to have his sentencing confirmed.
During the trial, witnesses testified that Aysal was ‘totally calm’ when he called for aid after Serma fell to her death.
Aysal stopped a passing driver, Sait Erturk, who characterized him as “carefree” and stated he did not come with them to look for his wife’s body.
Mr Erturk told the court: ‘I was driving there and when I saw someone was waving at me, and I stopped. Hakan came and said that his wife had fallen down the cliff.
‘We immediately got out of the care and started looking for her, but we couldn’t see where she would have landed from where we were.
‘We tried to get closer to the edge for a better look. Hakan did not come with us down there. We stayed there until the gendarmerie arrived.
‘Hakan was very carefree and calm. He was not acting like a man whose wife had just fallen off a cliff.’
Another witness, Recep Sahin, whose daughter captured Serma’s final moments on the clifftop before she died, also took the stand.
He told the court that he had stopped at the beauty spot ‘to see the view of Kabak Bay with my family.’
‘My daughter was filming the view with my phone and the Aysal couple came down the slope at that moment.
‘We even joked: “Either this man will throw the woman off or the woman will throw the man.”‘
Both witnesses stated that the defendant appeared calm in the seconds following the incident while emergency personnel were on the site.
Another witness caught the moment Semra’s husband looked to be pulling her over to the edge of the cliff on the day of her death.
Nobody, however, captured Serma’s real fall. Prosecutors claim this is because Aysal insisted on the couple remaining on the clifftop for three hours until he was certain they were not being monitored.
In February, the victim’s brother, Naim Yolcu, testified in court via video.
‘When we went to the Forensic Medicine Institute to get the body, Hakan was sitting in the car. My family and I were destroyed, but Hakan did not even appear sad,’ he said, adding that he did not see Aysal cry.
‘My sister was always against taking out loans. However, after she died, we learned that she had three loans taken by Hakan on behalf of my sister.
‘Also, Semra had a fear of heights, what extreme sport is she going to be doing when she is scared of heights?’ Yolcu said.
Local news outlet NTV reported that bank statements requested by the court showed that Aysal had taken out seven loans on Semra’s behalf.
Asked previously about the insurance premiums, Aysal said: ‘I have been interested in extreme sports since 2014; Parachuting, bungee jumping, rafting. That is why I had life insurance before I got married.’
‘I did not examine the policy much,’ Aysal said when asked about an article in the personal accident insurance that named him as the sole benefactor in the case of Semra’s death and his family as the benefactors should they both die.
‘The banker arranged the paperwork. I just brought it to my wife to get it signed. I was not aware that there was such an article,’ he said.
Aysal had denied responsibility for Semra’s death, he explained her fall by saying: ‘After taking a photo, my wife put her phone in her bag. Later, she asked me to give her the phone.
‘ I got up and then I heard my wife scream behind my when I walked a few steps away to get the bag. When I turned back, she was not there. I did not push my wife.’