|Christian martyrs Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel|
and Tillman Geske (Photo by Compass Direct)
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 April 18, 2007.
The trial of the five alleged murderers began on November 22, 2007, 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.
Last month, 20 people were detained in connection with both the Malatya murders and the ongoing ‘Ergenekon’ case. Ergenekon is an alleged high-level conspiracy to destabilize the Turkish government through acts of terror, including the targeting of minority communities, as outlined in the organization’s “Cage Action Plan.”
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 April 29.