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Mystery surrounding Gabonese student’s death in northwestern Turkey persists

Gabonese student Jeannah Danys Dinabongho Ibouanga

Gabonese student Jeannah Danys Dinabongho Ibouanga

The mystery surrounding the death of a 17-year-old Gabonese student in northwestern Turkey persists, leading to claims that she might have been the victim of a racially motivated murder and calls for an effective investigation into her death.

The body of Jeannah Danys Dinabongho Ibouanga, a student of mechanical engineering at Karabük University, was found in the Filyos River on March 26. The Karabük Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said based on the initial autopsy report that she had drowned and that there were no signs of violence or sexual abuse on her body.

Kerim Bahadır Şeker, the lawyer for the Gabonese Embassy in Ankara, however, said there is no reference to the death of Ibouanga by drowning in the initial autopsy report, hence it is unacceptable for the prosecutor’s office to present drowning as the cause of death. Şeker said the prosecutor’s office should have waited until the final autopsy report is released, adding that since the woman was 17 years old, there could be legal consequences if she had been subjected to sexual abuse.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a prominent defender of human rights, said during a speech in parliament on Tuesday that although the prosecutor’s office stated that the woman died by drowning, Jean-Bernard Avouma, Gabon’s ambassador in Ankara, objects and claims that an effective investigation has not been carried out because the woman was black.

“It’s not realistic for a young woman to jump into a river on a cold winter night. A thorough investigation must be conducted as soon as possible into the death of Dina, who is seen in camera footage running barefoot outside and was allegedly harassed by two employees at the Karabük Post Office,” the MP added.

Meanwhile, Demirören news agency (DHA) reporter Ali Sencer Arslan, who found the footage of Ibouanga running barefoot on the street on a security camera, was briefly detained in Karabük for allegedly violating the confidentiality of the investigation into the student’s death.

Arslan was released after giving his statement to the police.


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