“21-year-old Halit Yozgat was assassinated in broad daylight, in his family’s internet cafe on April 6, 2006 in Kassel Germany. Five witnesses were present in the 77 square metre space when Halit was shot twice in the head. Remarkably, an undercover agent from the German secret service was among those present in the cafe at the time of the murder, yet he claimed not to have heard gunfire nor noticed the body slumped at the front desk. A rigorous counter-investigation by London-based research agency Forensic Architecture inspired the Australian composer and director Ben Frost to write the opera The Murder of Halit Yozgat. With his unconventional combination of sound art, electronic music and dark metal, Frost brings a performance in which a sound nobody heard irrevocably ties all of those present together.

With The Murder of Halit Yozgat, the Australian composer Ben Frost (1980), known for his exceedingly diverse oeuvre of experimental and electronic music, has produced his second opera. As with his first opera, The Wasp Factory (Holland Festival 2014), he decided on a remarkable and particularly dark subject.

The real-life and unsolved murder in an internet cafe in Kassel, where the young Halit Yozgat was shot in the head twice while five patrons were present, retrospectively turned out to fit in a string of racially motivated murders committed by the far right NSU (National Socialist Underground). Andreas Temme, the undercover officer present and one of five witnesses, later stated not to have noticed anything when the murder occurred. He claimed he heard no shots, smelled no gunpowder, and did not notice the lifeless body of Yozgat upon leaving.

The reputable interdisciplinary investigation team ‘Forensic Architecture’ set out to meticulously chart the events and conflicting statements. To this end, a highly detailed timeline was drawn up on the basis of all available information such as the login data of computers and telephones at the scene. A video was made of the different scenarios in the painstakingly recreated internet cafe. The discrepancies in Temme’s statement were particularly striking.

The possible involvement of police officials in the far right activities of the NSU, i.e. ‘NSU Complex’, is a point of political and social contention. Can the truth still be brought to light? According to Ismail Yozgat, the victim’s father, there are only two possibilities: “Either Mr Temme killed my son himself, or he saw who killed my son”.

The ingenious reconstruction of what might have happened during those 9.26 minutes on the 77 square meters of the internet cafe was presented as an artwork in 2016 at Documenta 14 in Kassel and was nominated for the prestigious Turner prize.”

Photo credit: Kerstin Schomburg