Please continue to pray for the families of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske, the three Christians murdered in Malatya in Turkey in 2007. Five suspects were released from prison in 2014 and are now reportedly allowed to move around freely. They have allegedly threatened the victims’ families. The ongoing murder trial has become very complicated, amid accusations of a wider conspiracy involving the military. The next hearing is scheduled for March 1. (Source: Middle East Concern)
21 October 2015
The five suspects on trial for murdering three Christians in Turkey’s south-eastern city of Malatya will give their final defence today, in the 108th hearing of a case now stretching into its eighth year.
Four of five suspects named the fifth suspect as the sole killer in the most recent hearing, which took place in September. The four men, now in their late 20s, each face three consecutive life sentences. Categorically, they all accused fellow defendant, Emre Gunaydin, of acting alone when he tortured and knifed to death two Turkish converts to Christianity, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and German missionary Tilmann Geske, on 18 April 2007.
Each of the four declared they did not personally take part in any of the three murders. “Emre Gunaydin killed them one by one, mercilessly,” suspect Salih Gurler told the court.
According to the suspects’ claims, Gunaydin began to indoctrinate them against Christian missionaries shortly after he became acquainted with them, accusing Protestant house churches of working against the Turkish state in collusion with Kurdish PKK militants. Eventually he unveiled his plan to raid the Zirve office in Malatya, where the murders took place, in order to confiscate documents and computer files that he said would reveal the Christians’ ‘secret agenda’ against Turkey and Islam.
“Emre never said anything to us about murder,” Ozdemir said. “‘We will take the documents and leave,’ he said… While [the murders] were happening, I wanted to leave, but the door was locked. So I waited by the window in shock!” All five of the suspects were arrested at the scene.
After seven years in a high-security prison, the five as-yet-unconvicted suspects were released to house arrest in March 2014, when they were fitted with electronic tracking devices. At the trial hearings held every few months since then, three have been brought under police escort to court, while the other two from outlying villages have appeared over closed-circuit video from police stations near their homes.
In his live video testimony from the Darende police station, suspect Ozdemir told the court, “My only regret is, if only I had become a shepherd and not come to Malatya. If only I had never met Emre Gunaydin!”
Threats against church leaders
Two days before the hearing in September, Turkish Protestants held a press conference at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara with Selina Dogan, a member of Parliament from the opposition Republican People’s Party.
“In our country everyone who is not Sunni and Muslim is in a disturbed psychological state,” stated Dogan, herself an Armenian Christian. She went on to alert the nation to a recent campaign of systematic death threats of a ‘jihadist’ nature sent to Protestant church leaders, most of whom became Christians from Muslim backgrounds. Some 100 separate, almost identical threats had been sent to the websites, Facebook, emails and mobile telephones of more than 15 churches across the country.
“The security officials and prosecutors are not conducting effective investigations,” Dogan noted. “We are calling on the prosecutors, and we have requested a meeting with the Interior Minister.”
“The police have not taken any precautionary measures yet,” declared Ankara pastor Ihsan Ozbek. “This has left the Protestant community seriously anxious and worried.”
In the face of the latest threats, General Secretary Umut Sahin of the Protestant association told World Watch Monitor, “We have not forgotten Malatya. The authorities must take these threats seriously.”
Source: World Watch Monitor
- For this court case to finally be brought to a conclusion, and for justice to be served
- For healing and comfort for the families of the victims
- For protection for Christians in Turkey.