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Cellphone localisation glitch turned deadly in Turkey

Dotted "i" leads to tragedy
Sat Apr 26 2008, 08:00

A COUPLE in Ankara careened into tragedy over a mobile phone localisation error. The story deserves entry in the doubles category of the Darwin Awards.

Ramazan Çalçoban, 24, and his wife Emine, 20, separated and perhaps headed for divorce, argued with each other as couples in such situations sometimes do.

Having split up, they carried on arguments via cellphone text messages, until Ramazan texted "you change the topic every time you run out of arguments."

With that one message, a localisation mismatch between his mobile phone and Emine's set in motion a tragic misunderstanding that had grave consequences.

Ramazan's cellphone had the capability to enter and display the Turkish letter "ı" or closed "i" -- without the dot -- whereas Emine's cellphone didn't have it.

All Turkish cellphones have the letter "i" but not all of them have the letter "ı".

Although Ramazan's cellphone transmitted the word "sıkısınca", which means to "run out of arguments", Emine's cellphone displayed what she read as "sikisince ", which means something like "they are fornicating you" in Turkish.

Events then spun out of hand fast. Emine showed the text message to her father who, in a rage, called Ramazan and accused him of calling Emine a prostitute.

Mortified, Ramazan went to the family's home to explain and apologise for the misunderstanding. He was met by Emine, her father, two sisters... and knives.

Bleeding and with a knife in his chest, Ramazan tried to escape. Emine was still trying to finish him off at the door when he managed to take the knife out of his chest and lashed back at her with it in self defence, seriously wounding Emine.

Ramazan escaped but was picked up by the police. Emine bled to death before an ambulance was able to reach the house through Ankara's crosstown traffic.

Injured and confused, according to Hurriyet (in Turkish), and perhaps fearing prison, revenge by Emine's family, or both, Ramazan committed suicide in jail.

Emine's father and sisters were arrested too, but there's no word as to whether they were ever charged or convicted of any crime related to this deadly melee.

Turkish press have called for better cellphone localisation to avoid such errors. µ



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