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Dilek Ertek: Tiffany tycoon's mysterious death sparks many questions as lawyers sue cruise line operator

Why did the ship's company sell the cabin where Ertek and her lover were staying to other passengers at the next port instead of sealing it?
The death of jewelry executive Dilek Ertek, who allegedly fell off a cruise ship on October 26th, has left many unanswered questions in its wake (YouTube/CNN Turk)
The death of jewelry executive Dilek Ertek, who allegedly fell off a cruise ship on October 26th, has left many unanswered questions in its wake (YouTube/CNN Turk)

PAPEETE, TAHITI: The death of jewelry executive Dilek Ertek after allegedly falling off a Norwegian cruise ship on October 26th, off the coast of Tahiti, has left several questions unanswered.

Ertek, a wealthy 71-year-old Turkish distributor for the luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co., fell to her death on October 26 under unexplained circumstances. Her body is yet to be recovered and investigators are reportedly baffled at how the 5’2” female could have fallen over a three-foot-high guard rail on the ship into the South Pacific waters, among several other questions. Ertek was celebrating her birthday on the Norwegian Spirit ship during a holiday in the company of her Swiss lover when she met her end.


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According to the Daily Mail, Ertek's son Gokce Atuk said jewelry was missing from the safe in his mother's cabin. CCTV footage from the cruise ship reportedly indicates the Tiffany tycoon fell from the ocean liner at around 3 am on the morning of October 26. Meanwhile, her 74-year-old Swiss partner is said to have reported her missing only 20 hours later, after which the ship's crew kept the unidentified male under observation until the ship docked in Tahiti three days later, Turkish news source Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Another Turkish newspaper Sabah cited a local officer's concerns who wondered why the partner reported her missing after so long even though the couple stayed in the same cabin and spent a lot of their time together on the ship. “I find it very suspicious that the missing situation is not reported. Because on cruise ships, daily activities and entertainment are organized frequently and everyone is in contact with each other. People who cannot hear from each other inform the front desk and make an announcement. So it is confusing that the news of the disappearance is given 20 hours later,” the officer reportedly said.


“Safety on board is a really important issue,” the officer quoted by Sabah said. “Precautions are taken into consideration right from the shipbuilding phase. Balconies are made entirely of glass and have railings. Their height easily reaches the chest level of a medium-sized person. It is not possible to fall. In order to jump, you need to make an effort because it is not easy to put your foot on [the balcony]. You have to get on [a] chair. It’s also unlikely that someone intoxicated will fall.”


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Another reported concern was why the ship's company sold the cabin where Ertek and her lover were staying to other passengers at the next port. Turkish authorities argued against the move, saying the room should have been sealed and searched for evidence. While there were no signs of struggle caught on camera at the time of the incident, authorities would have to search for evidence of blood, prints, and possibly tissue samples as a result of a possible altercation in the cabin before it was cleaned and occupied again. 

Ertek's relatives have reportedly claimed that the ocean liner's management has not provided them with the CCTV footage of the fall. In cases such as this, all camera records and hard disks on board would have to be confiscated with a court decision so that experts can examine them and prepare a report. Local reports suggest Ertek's partner was questioned by Tahiti police after the vessel docked, but he was ultimately released due to a lack of evidence. Meanwhile, her lawyers are reportedly filing lawsuit against the operator of the ship. They are also urging Tahiti law enforcement to lead the investigation into the circumstances of her death.