House where British officer fell to his death becomes 'unrentable'

House where British intelligence officer James Le Mesurier mysteriously plunged to his death has been ‘unrentable’ ever since because tenants ‘give up’ on living in the property when they learn of its tragic past

  • James Le Mesurier died on November 11 last year after falling from his terrace
  • Locals say his wife left the house in February but people do not want to rent it
  • An estate agent has dropped the monthly rental fee by £1000 to attract renters

The house where a British officer and the co-founder of the Syrian civil defence group mysteriously fell to his death has become unrentable since the tragedy.

Father-of-two James Le Mesurier fell from the terrace of his house in Istanbul, Turkey, and was found dead on the street aged 48 on November 11, 2019.

His body was found by a passerby on his way past the house in Karakoy to morning prayers at a nearby mosque.

The death of Le Mesurier was deemed a suicide after the three and a half month investigation by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office which terminated on March 2020 this year.

But it remains shrouded in intrigue after the 48-year-old father of two was found dead only two days after the Kremlin accused him of being a spy. 

The house where former British officer James Le Mesurier died in Istanbul, Turkey, has become unrentable according to locals

The three-storey 500 square metres (1640 square feet) house, in a central location of the city, remains on the rental market seven months after Le Mesurier’s wife left in February

James Le Mesurier, pictured on Twitter, was found dead outside his home in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district in November

Locals say that as soon as people realise that it is the house where the British agent died they lose interest

According to the national newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, Le Mesurier’s wife Emma Winberg left the house they shared in February with all their belongings.

However, the three-story 1,640sqft house, in a central location of the city, remains on the rental market seven months later.

Locals say that as soon as people realise that it is the house where the British agent died they lose interest.

A shopkeeper on the street where Le Mesurier died, named Tarık Emir, said: ‘The building was shown on televisions and newspapers for days. 

Le Mesurier’s wife Emma H Winberg (pictured on November 13) left the house they shared in February with all their belongings

Locals say that as soon as people realise that it is the house where the British agent died they lose interest

‘Everyone knows this place. People come and take pictures in front of it. There are also those who come to rent. 

‘They consult us. They give up when they find out it’s the building where the agent died.’

Real estate agent İlker Erkan said: ‘There is no legal problem with the building. The seal of the building was removed earlier this year. 

‘In the past months, we wanted to rent the building for 60,000 Turkish Liras [£6207] per month. Now we want 50,000 Liras [£5173].’

Le Mesurier was the co-founder of the White Helmets, officially named the Syria Civil Defence, which has saved the lives of thousands and helps those stuck in rebel-held areas during the bombing by the Syrian government and Russian forces.

Mr Le Mesurier had apparently tumbled from an upstairs window in the middle of the night and was wearing a white shirt, grey trousers, and a wristwatch when his body was spotted by worshippers on their way to a mosque in the Beyoglu district at around 5.30am on Monday (pictured, the scene where his body was found)

He was honoured by the Queen with an OBE in 2016 for ‘services to the Syria Civil Defence group and the protection of civilians in Syria’.

He formed the voluntary search-and-rescue group called the White Helmets, which says it has rescued more than 100,000 civilians during Syria’s brutal civil war.

Known officially as the Syria Civil Defence, the group numbering more than 3,000 sends volunteers into bombed areas to help rescue trapped civilians and administer medical treatment.

It has lost 252 volunteers to date and more than 500 have been wounded. 

The sealed entrance of the home where Mr Le Mesurier was found dead, photographed in November

The group was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 and received the Right Livelihood Award in recognition of ‘outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians’.

Mr Le Mesurier told Al Jazeera in 2015 that he had begun training and supporting the organisation in early 2013 alongside Turkish rescue experts, starting with ‘a single team of 20 people’.

‘I was working in Istanbul… and got together with a group of Turkish earthquake rescue volunteers,’ he said. 

The White Helmets quickly expanded, and are credited with saving tens of thousands of lives during Syria’s conflict.

A documentary about the group won an Academy Award in 2017.

The White Helmets have become a favourite target of pro-Syrian and pro-Russian groups. 

They have accused the group of supporting terrorists in Syria and doctoring footage of atrocities committed by regime forces – claims strongly denied by its supporters.

The 48-year-old was under ‘intense stress’ and had suffered a years-long Russian smear campaign against him, his wife Emma Winberg revealed in November.  

Winberg, who works as the director of Mayday Rescue, told police that he had been taking medication because he was under ‘intense stress’ and that the pair moved to the area to be near a medical centre, Anadolu reported.

Police officers and members of the public outside Mr Le Mesurier’s home on Monday morning. Amnesty International UK has called for a ‘proper investigation’ into the death

Though many details of Le Mesurier’s final hours are unconfirmed, it seems they were spent at Mayday’s office with his wife Emma Winberg, a fellow director of the organisation.

She reportedly told detectives that she and James went to bed at around 4am on Monday, having both taken sleeping pills. 

She was woken by knocking on the door and discovered that her husband was lying on the street surrounded by police.

The building is said to be well secured and accessible only via a fingerprint identification system. 

Footage from a security camera over the front door showed nothing suspicious and no sign of forced entry, leading police to conclude that it was suicide. 

Who are Syria’s White Helmets?

Founded in 2013, the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets, is a network of first responders that rescues the wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or explosions in rebel-held territory. 

The White Helmets have rescued an estimated 100,000 civilians that were trapped under rubble or caught up in fighting in battered opposition-held zones along various fronts of Syria’s seven-year conflict.

Since its formation, when Syria’s conflict was nearing its third year, more than 252 of its volunteers have died and more than 500 have been wounded.

The group’s motto — ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity’ — is drawn from a verse in the Koran, although the White Helmets insist they treat all victims, regardless of religion.

A wounded White Helmets volunteer evacuates his injured colleague following a reported air strike on the rebel-controlled town of Hammuriyeh in 2017

Some members have received training abroad, including in Turkey, returning to instruct colleagues on search-and-rescue techniques.

The group receives funding from a number of governments, including Britain, Germany and the United States, but also solicits individual donations to purchase equipment such as its signature hard hats.

Three years ago, a Netflix production called ‘The White Helmets’ won an Academy Award for best short documentary.

A second film on the group, named ‘Last Men in Aleppo,’ was nominated for an Oscar in 2018.

Source: Read Full Article