April 18 marked four years since the murder of three Christians in Malatya, Turkey.
4/18/2011 Turkey (Inspire Magazine) – Today marks the fourth anniversary of the murders of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tillman Geske, employees of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, eastern Turkey.
The three members of the Malatya Kurtulus Church were tortured and killed by a group of five young Muslims in the office of the Christian publishing company on 18 April 2007.
The trial of the five alleged murderers began on 22 November 2007 at the Third Criminal Court in Malatya, and to date at least 27 witnesses have appeared in court over the course of 30 hearings. The five men were caught trying to escape from the scene of the crime. However, the trial has been prolonged due to the prosecutors’ desire to prove the killings were commissioned by high-level clandestine powers.
A step in this direction was taken last month, when 20 people were detained in connection with both the Malatya murders and the ongoing ‘Ergenekon’ case. Ergenekon is an alleged high-level conspiracy to destabilise the Turkish government through acts of terror, including the targeting of minority communities, as outlined in the organisation’s “Cage Action Plan”.
Those recently detained include a university theology lecturer, a non-commissioned officer from the Siirt Provincial Gendarmerie Command, and the retired colonel who commanded Malatya’s Provincial Gendarmerie Brigade at the time of the murders.
Friends and family of the victims, who have long advocated a more in depth examination of these murders, have expressed satisfaction with recent developments, and the hope that the Malatya trial will soon be officially merged with the Ergenekon case. However, the timing of the recent removal from the Ergenekon investigation of Zekeriya Öz, the chief prosecutor who ordered the recent arrests, has raised some anxieties.
The next Malatya hearing is scheduled for 29 April.