Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Turkey children's deaths: Father 'denied access to bodies'

The father of two children from Hampshire found dead in Turkey says he has been refused access to the bodies.

Yaanis and Mira Mellersh, aged eight and six, were found dead with their Turkish-born mother on Friday.

Justin Mellersh, 46, had legal custody but his children had been missing since early 2010. He is in Turkey fighting to bring the bodies back to the UK.

The children's UK-based family appealed to the Turkish president earlier who was in Hampshire during a state visit.

The BBC has contacted the Turkish Embassy in London but officials are yet to comment on the case.

Mr Mellersh, whose parents live in the New Forest village of Minstead, near Lyndhurst, said he wanted to bury his children there.

Image caption Yaanis and Mira Mellersh grew up in Hampshire's New Forest before moving to Germany

But he said a Turkish court had ruled the bodies should be transferred to the custody of their mother's relatives in Turkey.

The children grew up in Hampshire before the family moved to Germany. Their mother, Elke Mellersh, 45, was a German citizen.

Mrs Mellersh was wanted by Interpol on suspicion of child abduction after she and the children went missing near Bremen, in Germany, in February 2010.

Mr Mellersh and his father Nick are in Turkey but say they have been refused access to the children's bodies.

"I cannot even say goodbye to my children," Mr Mellersh said.

Speaking to the BBC from Turkey Mr Mellersh said: "There seems to be something very underhand going on with the decision and with the actions that have been taken.

"We are very saddened by this. I still have not seen my children since they were abducted."

'Absolutely crushing'

He has called on the UK Government to put pressure on the Turkish authorities and prevent the children's burial in Turkey.

"It's absolutely crushing for me," Mr Mellersh said.

"My children were absolutely everything to me and they were very beautiful children.

Image caption Natasha Mellersh tried to catch the attention of the Turkish president in Gosport, Hampshire

"What's most crushing is that I've lost them but this is just a further blow that I cannot even say goodbye to my children."

Meanwhile, the children's cousin, Natasha Mellersh, appealed to President Abdullah Gul by holding up a placard showing pictures of the children while he visited a naval cemetery in Gosport, Hampshire, on a three-day state visit.

She stood at the cemetery's gate but the president's cavalcade did not stop.

She said: "We're here as we wanted to raise the issue with the president, to make him aware of this escalating from a legal issue to a political problem."

The bodies of the children and their mother were found in a farmhouse in Soke near the Aegean coast, western Turkey, on Friday.

In a message posted on Facebook, their father said: "Yaani and Mimi - the lively, loving, tender, kind individuals who were children, grandchildren, nephew, niece and cousins to us - lost their lives because of deliberate actions of their mother, who took her own life as she took theirs."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites