Four men and one woman accused of abducting and killing Nigerian university student Kennedy Taomwabwa Dede in 2018 have been found guilty at Gazimağusa (Famagusta) Criminal Court. They were each sentenced to between 9 and 27 years in jail.
Nidai Şanlı, who had gone on the run after the attack, was found guilty of murder, kidnapping, serious assault, and possession of a dangerous weapon.
Three other men, Ozan Körkurt, Onur Körkurt and Zekeriya Kurucu, were each convicted of kidnapping, serious assault, and killing Dede.
Simge Dağdur was found guilty of serious assault and killing Dede.
International student Kennedy Dede was aged 28 when he was murdered. Originally from Nigeria, Dede was studying architecture at Eastern Mediterranean University, who had won awards playing sports for his university.
Dede was said to owe $1,000 for drugs and was abducted by the group from his flat in Kuzenler Apartment in Gazimağusa on the evening of 29 January 2018. Neighbours testified hearing his cries for help, and seeing three men – Şanlı, and Ozan and Onur Körkurt – force him into a car.
He was taken to a remote location by Çanakkale Göleti [Çanakkale Lake], a reservoir just outside the city, where he was severely beaten and left for dead by the lake.
The body of Dede was found partially in the water by a police officer the following day. He had severe trauma to the head and chest caused by slaps, punches, and kicks.
The court heard Şanlı had also administered electronic shocks to Dede, and there was evidence of stab wounds.
The blows to the head had proved fatal, with a brain haemorrhage given as the cause of death in the official autopsy report.
Şanlı was said to be the main instigator. Police investigations found he and his associates were part of a drugs gang that Dede had become involved in as a seller after experiencing financial difficulties in North Cyprus. The student was killed after failing to pay money due for drugs he had been given to sell.
After evaluating the evidence, including deleted telephone messages between the accused and 190 statements from witnesses, the court found all five defendants guilty of all charges against them.
Judge Şenol said that although the defendants were young, it was necessary to make an example of them given the seriousness of their crimes.
Şanlı, age 31, was sentenced to 27 years in jail. Onur Körkurt, 24, was jailed for 17 years. Ozan Körkurt, 21 and Simge Dağdur, 31 were each given jail sentences of 13 years. Zekeriya Kurucu, 25, sentenced to 9 years in prison.
The five were remanded in custody for the past two years while awaiting their trial. This will be deducted from the time they will serve in prison.
Dede’s death had resulted in tensions between local people and international students, who were angry at the perceived lack of action over the student’s killing in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC). A series of protests were organised by Nigerian students to demand justice for their murdered friend.
Dede’s sister Miriam, then also a student in the TRNC, made a video appeal a few weeks after the death of her older brother calling on the authorities to ensure there was justice for Kennedy.
In the 8 minute video, Miriam Dede explained the shock of learning about her brother’s cold-blooded murder and having to identify his lifeless body, and her fears of living in North Cyprus after his death.
She complained about the lack of information from the police, who had not been forthcoming with details about the crime or progress in the investigation.
Kennedy Dede’s death and surrounding events led to the formation of TRNC student body VOIS (Voice Of International Students) Cyprus, which has tracked the case ever since.
Following the verdict, VOIS Cyprus posted a statement on their social media pages:
“The murder of Kennedy Dede was a final straw which pushed our cofounders to found #VOISCyprus. We’re delighted for his sister Dede Miriam & his family, that 3 years on #justice is being served.”
A longer statement was issued after sentencing, which thanked the TRNC police and judiciary for their work and ensuring that justice was achieved.
#JusticeForKennedyDede! Please find some details about today’s sentencing of the killers of Kennedy Dede. Extensive information about the rulings will be made available on our website soon! pic.twitter.com/La7Lb7fgcI
— VOIS Cyprus (@voiscyprus) January 26, 2021