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ICC Note: Nearly seven years after the brutal murder of three Christians in central Turkey the five accused suspects have been released. As the case has now stretched on and on without a conviction due to various procedural issues and connection to a larger plot, the five were released due to a new law shortening the amount of time that an individual can be held prior to their conviction from 10 years to five years. The case is still on-going with a verdict scheduled to be rendered on April 10th. Christians throughout the country have been concerned for their safety and it again highlights their insecure place in Turkish society. 
03/09/2014 Turkey (Today’s Zaman) – As per a recently passed law that decreased the maximum period of detention to five years, five suspects tried for brutally killing three Christians at the Zirve Publishing House were released pending trial on Friday, a move that has made Christians in Turkey concerned for their safety.
Suspects Emre Günaydın, Abuzer Yıldırım, Cuma Özdemir, Hamit Çeker and Salih Gürler, for whom aggravated life sentences have been demanded, were released by the Malatya First High Criminal Court upon requests by suspects’ lawyers and are on probation from Malatya E-Type Prison.
The court based its decision on a law that has abolished specially authorized courts, while dropping the detention period for terrorism charges from 10 years to five. As per Law No. 6526, which went into effect after being published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, anyone who has been in prison for five years without a final verdict on their case will be released.
On April 18, 2007, Christians Necati Aydın (35), Uğur Yüksel and German national Tilmann Ekkehart Geske (46) were tied to chairs, stabbed and tortured at the Zirve Publishing House in the southeastern city of Malatya; the torture ended with their throats being slit. The publishing house they worked for printed Bibles and other Christian literature.
Four of the suspects, Abuzer Yıldırım, Cuma Özdemir, Salih Gürler and Hamit Çeker, were apprehended at the scene and immediately taken into custody, while the fifth suspect, Emre Günaydın, jumped from a third-story window in a failed attempt to escape from police. He was also taken into custody after being treated for injuries.
Following the release — earlier on the same da — of Erhan Tuncel, who is a key suspect in the killing, in 2007, of Hrant Dink, the late editor-in-chief of the İstanbul-based Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, the release of five suspects came as a second shock to Christians in Turkey.
Christians feel threatened
Susanne Geske, the widow of the victim Tilmann Geske, told Today’s Zaman that she sees the release as unjust. Sharing that they have started to feel threated following the release, Geske, who lives with her children in Malatya, said: “It is a cause of distrust [towards justice] that the murderers were released [before the court issued its final verdict]. This decision has diminished people’s trust in the law.”
“The small Christian community of Turkey has been deeply shaken as five murderers of Christians in Malatya were released due to legal changes regarding the detention period,” Ziya Meral, a London-based Turkish researcher, posted on Twitter.

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