Turkish courts finally put murder suspects on trial

By September 21, 2012

Turkey (MNN) — In 2007, three Christians were brutally murdered in the Malatya Massacre. Five years down the road, suspects are finally taking the stand, and there could be an end in sight, according to Compass Direct News (CDN). In a recent article, CDN said 19 suspects stood on trial for the Zerve Publishing slayings. This is a big step, as the case has progressed at a remarkably sluggish pace.

But during the six recent consecutive days of court hearings, the massacre mastermind failed to show up. On the stand, one of the defendants denied any connection to the prime suspect.

"We went on an expedition on behalf of Islam on our own to accomplish this event," said defendant Emre Gunaydin.

A recurring theme seems to have surfaced for this trial: one step forward, three steps back.

In late 2007, five men went to trial and faced life sentences for tying up, torturing, and slitting the throats of Necati Aydin, 35, Ugur Yuksel, 32, and German national Tilmann Geske, 46. A year later, the Turkish Interior Ministry investigated accusations against state prosecutors for mishandling the case. The case was expanded in 2009 when evidence suggested the attacks were instigated by Ergenekon, a loose collection of ultra-nationalist generals, businessmen, mafia and journalists. It hit a bump in the road in June 2009 when a suspected middleman failed to show up for court. Although the end seemed to be in sight in 2010, the trial dragged on for another two years.

In June, CDN recounts, the courts accepted a new indictment accusing military higher-ups of orchestrating the attacks. The 761-page report claims the murders were planned by a retired military general as part of the Cage Action Plan, formed by military officials trying to undercut the government through "assassinations, threats, and acts of terror against Turkey's non-Muslim minorities."

"This indictment provides the first solid evidence that our military authorities officially assigned the named suspects to monitor and attack the Christians in Malatya," a representative told CDN.

The case's prime suspect, 70-year-old Ret. Gen. Hursit Tolon, reportedly sent the court a 10-day medical excuse from his prison cell. CDN said Tolon and the remaining suspects will testify on November 12, when hearings are scheduled to resume.

Two widows, five young children, and a fiancée survive the victims of the Malatya Massacre. Keep them in your prayers, and pray for the quick resolution of this case. Turkey is #31 on the Open Doors World Watch List. Pray for boldness for Turkish believers.

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