Ukrainian officials have slammed media claims that a teenage beauty queen was stoned to death by three Muslim suspects who alleged the 19-year-old violated Sharia law by participating in pageants.
As CBS reports, the body of Katya Koren was found in a forest near her home in the Crimea region of Ukraine one week after her disappearance. Her battered body had been partially buried.
Initial media reports said three Muslim youths were responsible for the murder, claiming Koren's death had been justified under Islam, the Daily Mail is reporting. One of the three suspects, named as 16-year-old Bihal Gaziev, was quoted as telling police that Katya had "violated the laws of Sharia," and that he has no regrets about her death.
Now, Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Chairman Mustafa Abdülcemil Qırımoğlu, commonly known as Mustafa Cemiloğlu in Turkey, said the detained teenager, who is of Crimean Tatar descent, was pressured by police into accepting the blame for the murder. “The killing was covered in a distorted way, as if it was a religiously motivated murder, by the media around the world," he is quoted as saying. Though initial reports claimed Koren, like her assailants, was Muslim, officials like Qırımoğlu now say she is actually Christian with Russian roots. "The girl was not Muslim. All these [reports] are a provocation and fabricated news."
Other authorities now believe Koren may have been killed by a psychologically troubled classmate, who robbed and possibly raped her before battering her to death with a rock. "A student did it, killing his classmate," Sergei Reznikov, a senior policeman involved in the case, is quoted by the Telegraph as saying. "There is no other underlying reason, neither religious nor linked with inter-ethnic conflicts."
Friends have described Koren, who reportedly finished seventh in a regional beauty contest, as liking fashionable clothes. Though the Crimea region is home to more than 250,000 Muslim Crimean Tatars, cases of Sharia punishment being meted out by stoning have thus far been unheard of.