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Ex-journalist, former volunteer at publishing house suspected of instigating slaughter.

02/12/09 Turkey (Compass Direct News) – A Turkish court has charged two more men for instigating the murder of three Christians in Malatya in 2007 – a former volunteer worker at the Christian publishing house where they were killed, and an ex-journalist suspected of ties to a group that tried to engineer a political coup.

The arrests add growing evidence to the belief that the murders resulted not just from five troubled youths incited by religious or nationalist anger, but from a larger plan to create chaos in the country and kill specific people.

A judge ordered the arrest of former journalist Varol Bulent Aral, 32, on Feb. 4 on suspicion of instigating the murder. The Malatya court had subpoenaed Aral multiple times to testify about his role in the killings, but he did not appear until last October after being arrested for other charges.

Plaintiff attorneys representing family members of the murder victims believe Aral incited the suspected ringleader of the attacks to murder by convincing him foreign missionaries were connected to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a domestic outlawed terrorist organization.

Aral has been connected to Ergenekon, an ultranationalist cabal of retired generals, politicians, journalists and mafia members under investigation for conspiracy in various murders. Over 100 people have been detained in connection with the network since July 2008.

Prosecuting attorney Erdal Dogan told the national daily Taraf that Aral’s arrest was an important, albeit insufficient, step in the trial.

“From the beginning, this suspect could have been included in the case as an instigator to murder,” he said. “This person had an inside connection [to the murder], and security forces also knew this.”

A total of nine men have been charged with the murders. Seven of them are in jail; Mehmet Gokce and Kursat Kocadag have not been detained.

Former Zirve Employee Indicted

Huseyin Yelki, 34, a Turk who has worked for Christian organizations, was arrested on Monday (Feb. 9) after suspected ringleader Emre Gunaydin implicated him for instigation of murder in testimony to a public prosecutor.

Yelki is a former volunteer worker at Zirve Publishing Co. in Malatya, site of the brutal torture and murder of two Turkish Christians, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and a German, Tilmann Geske, on April 18, 2007. Last week Gunaydin claimed in his testimony that Aral and Yelki worked together to instigate the attack.

Yelki’s testimony at a hearing last August at the Malatya Third Criminal Court sharply differed from Gunaydin’s account. He said he was working part time at Zirve’s Malatya office when Gunaydin and two other men visited there about a month or six weeks before the murders. Gunaydin introduced himself, saying he wanted to meet Necati Aydin. But when Yelki telephoned Aydin and learned he would be coming to the office an hour later, the three men left.

Yelki said that instance was the only time he had ever met Gunaydin, that he never saw the men again and that he could not remember their faces. In a statement to police, Yelki said that Gunaydin had completely fabricated their relationship, and that he (Yelki) did not believe Christianity and missionary activity were harmful to Turkey.

But plaintiff attorneys said they believe that there is good reason to believe that Yelki was involved in the murders.

“Emre Gunaydin gave a very detailed account of his collaboration with Huseyin Yelki, which is consistent with other evidence in the court file,” said Orhan Kemal Cengiz, who leads the team of plaintiff lawyers.

“What Emre said indicates that they had a sophisticated relationship which goes back to 2006, and apparently Yelki was involved in the plot at every level and phase,” he said. “We already know that Yelki was also connected to Bulent Varol Aral, who undoubtedly has some dark connections with some deep-state elements.”

Regarding possible motives Yelki might have had for involvement in the murders, however, plaintiff attorneys said it was too early in the investigation to know.

Finding Instigators

Plaintiff attorneys said they are hopeful that the arrests of the two men will provide important answers to many questions regarding the true identity of masterminds behind the murder.

While the attorneys said they don’t believe Aral and Yelki are the masterminds themselves, they hope these two men could act as links for the investigation to go higher up the chain of command.

“In my opinion, Yelki and Aral are just middle guys between the real instigators and the ‘hit-men,’” said Cengiz, leader of the team of plaintiff lawyers. “Their inclusion into the court file has sparked hope inside me for the first time since the case has ever started. I hope we will be able to reach the higher links and deliver justice to them.”

The next hearing in the case is scheduled to take place in Malatya on Feb. 20.