Missing Gay Syrian Refugee Found Beheaded, Mutilated in Turkey

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A gay refugee living in Turkey has been found brutally murdered, his body so mutilated his friends could only identify him by his pants, a local rights group said.

Syrian Muhammed Wisam Sankari went missing on July 23 and was found two days later in the Yenikapi district of Istanbul.

He’d previously been threatened, kidnapped and raped, according to Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association (KAOS GL).

On Sunday, Sankari’s housemates told KAOS GL police called them to identify their friend’s body. “We identified him from his pants… They had cut Wisam so violently. So violent that two knives had broken inside him. They had beheaded him. His upper body was beyond recognition,” Sankari’s friend Gorkem said.

Sankari had been in Istanbul for about a year. It hasn’t been confirmed whether he was killed for being gay. As of Friday, Sankari’s killers had not been detained.

His housemates said this wasn’t the first time Sankari had been kidnapped. He had been previously abducted about five months ago and taken to a forest, where he was beaten and raped. “I am so scared. I feel like everyone is starting at me on the street… No one cares about us. They just talk. I get threats over the phone,” another of his flatmates told KAOS GL.

In June, a gay pride parade in Istanbul was interrupted by police with pepper spray and rubber pellets after 13 years of being allowed to march uninterrupted.

At the time, activists told CNN it was an attempt by President Erdogan to appeal to his conservative base.