The young Turkish woman killed when a car rammed into her on Wednesday had told her family that she felt safe in Malta and that was why she intended to stay in the country.

In an interview with Times of Malta, her grieving uncle Aykan Ceylan said he had a conversation with Pelin Kaya, the last time she visited him in Istanbul and he had tried to persuade her to return to live in Turkey.

But she assured him she was safe in Malta.

“The last time she was in Istanbul, I tried to persuade her to stay but she told me she had a great love for Malta and she insisted on staying because it is such a safe country.

Pelin Kaya's uncle Aykan Ceylan and her sister Derya Kaya outside the lawcourts on Thursday. Photo: Chris Sant FournierPelin Kaya's uncle Aykan Ceylan and her sister Derya Kaya outside the lawcourts on Thursday. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

“We trusted her instinct,” he said, flanked by his lawyers, Shazoo Ghaznavi, Charlon Gouder and Ramona Attard and assisted by an interpreter.

“Of course, such situations happen in many countries, however, we know that some people cannot be trusted and some of those people are in Malta as well. That very person took Pelin’s life.

“We do not want revenge, we want to make sure that he is judged by the law and that Pelin gets the justice that she deserves.”

Pelin, an interior designer, was walking in front of Paul & Rocco petrol station in Gżira, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, when she was struck and killed by a black BMW that then crashed through the glass frontage of KFC restaurant next door.

It was her 30th birthday.

"In the family group chat everyone was using their gifts to coax her back to Turkey because we missed her a lot"- Aykan Ceylan, victim's uncle

The driver, Jeremie Camilleri, was found to be drunk and high on cocaine, a court heard during his arraignment on Thursday evening. Video that emerged after the incident shows he had to be tasered by police and eyewitnesses claimed he threw stones at the victim.

Sources also told Times of Malta that the police have footage of Camilleri's car being driven directly into the victim. He has been charged with her murder. 

After Thursday's arraignment, Ceylan and Pelin’s heartbroken sister, Derya Kaya, issued a brief statement outside court speaking of the family’s anger and grief.

'It feels like a horrible joke'

Ceylan later told Times of Malta in an interview that it felt like a “horrible joke” to learn of her death and the circumstances surrounding it.

“Unfortunately, it happened on her birthday and in the family group chat everyone was using their gifts to coax her back to Turkey because we missed her a lot,” he said.

“When we first got the message in the morning, the only thing we wished was for it to be a joke.”

Ceylan described his niece, the youngest of three daughters, as the family’s “source of joy” who was mellow and easygoing but also ambitious and striving for success in her career.

Pelin Kaya, second left, with her colleagues from Onepercent, where she worked as an interior designer. Photo: OnepercentPelin Kaya, second left, with her colleagues from Onepercent, where she worked as an interior designer. Photo: Onepercent

She had built a strong network of community and friends that loved her fiercely, he said. She had embarked on her journey to Malta, where she has lived for the past two years, after completing her degree in English.

“She had decided to stay because she loved Malta and the Maltese people so much and, even though, we did not really want her to stay in Malta, we decided we would support her in her journey.”

Despite the physical distance, Pelin was nonetheless still close to her family.

“She would uplift people at their lowest and she gave us the support we didn’t know we needed, that’s why her passing has taken the life out of the family,” Ceylan said.

Unfortunately, Pelin’s parents have complex medical needs that prevented them from coming to Malta for their daughter, Ceylan explained, adding they have been devastated by her death.

The scene of the crash on Wednesday morning. Photo: Giulia MagriThe scene of the crash on Wednesday morning. Photo: Giulia Magri

“They still cannot process this atrocity and wish this was just a bad dream that they can wake up from,” he said solemnly.

Pelin, he said, was a talented designer who was part of the creative team that designed showrooms for the brand Nike.

'She wanted to design a dream home for all the family'

She had often expressed a desire to design a dream home for all the family to be able to gather in.

“Even though we live in Istanbul, we come from the province of Ardahan, which is in the east. She mentioned many times that she wanted to design a house in Ardahan and get the whole family together there at least once a year.”

Ceylan thanked the Maltese and Turkish embassies for the support the family has received as well as the instant action of the police which led to the arraignment in such a short time.

The family, he added, was also grateful for the kind support of the Maltese people, which has been overwhelming.

“Even though the Maltese do not know us, we still received many kind words and, honestly, it is one of the few reasons we are still standing at this moment,” he said.

“We wish that no one has to go through the experience we are going through now and we are putting our trust in the Maltese legal system that justice will be served for this atrocious incident.”

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