The family of Zehie Helin Reessur, who was murdered aged 16 in January last year, marked what would have been her 18th birthday on Monday.

Reessur’s relatives and some of her friends and teachers from school visited her grave in Famagusta and left flowers and balloons.

“If she were still with us, she would probably be celebrating this special day with her loved ones, but in the spring of her life, she was unexpectedly taken away from us,” her aunt Cihan Tuccar said.

“An 18th birthday is an important moment to which every young person looks forward, and celebrating this day was a source of great excitement and happiness for her.”

She went on to say, “the love and the memory of Helin will always remain alive in our hearts. We shall always cherish her memory. Helin was a special person who spread joy and love to those around her, despite her short life.”

Reessur was murdered in the early hours of January 25, 2023 by a male friend named Sefer Bugra Altundag.

It was heard in court in August last year that he had taken her from Famagusta, her hometown, to the construction site of the Grand Sapphire resort in the Long Beach area of Trikomo.

He then reportedly hit her six times in the head with an iron hammer while still inside his car, before she attempted to make an escape. He then put her back in his car and hit her twice in the chin with an iron mould tension screw.

Later in August, Famagusta policeman Hakan Ozcuremez testified that Reessur’s boyfriend had told him she had been “with someone she saw as a brother, called Sefer” during the first of two phone calls between the two on the night she was killed.

However, when she next called him an hour later, there were audible arguments in the background, and Reessur reportedly only said “he hit me in the nose” before the call ended.

Altundag was sentenced to three years in prison by a military court for illegally entering a military base while fleeing the scene of the murder.

He had then travelled to the Republic, but then turned himself into police and was transferred back to the north.

The murder trial is ongoing, having suffered from a litany of delays.