ASIA/TURKEY - Murderers of the three Christians in Malatya convicted, but no prison for now

Friday, 30 September 2016 violence

Malatya (Agenzia Fides) - Nine years after the killing of three Christians slaughtered in the southeastern Turkish city of Malatya, the Criminal Court sentenced five Turkish, accused of being the perpetrators of the triple murder, to life imprisonment. The sentence was handed down in recent days during the 115th hearing of a process which over the years was strongly influenced by internal power struggles, the political apparatuses, and Turkish military court.
The five convicted - Emre Gunaydin, Salih Gurler, Abuzer Yildirim, Cuma Ozdemir and Hamit Ceker - have all been recognized guilty of the premeditated murder. But the Court - refer theTurkish media - also ruled that the five convicts will not immediately be arrested, and will continue to live under probation until the judgment is confirmed in the higher procedural degrees. The five convicted were all arrested at the scene of the crime.
On 18 April 2007, three evangelical Christians - the Turkish Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Tilmann Geske - were bound and their throats slit in the office of Zirve publishing house, where they worked as collaborators. Around the murders, the investigation spotted a wide network of complicity and coverages involving members of the military and security apparatus. The murder case was linked to the Ergenekon file, concerning a suspected cabal plotting against the government of Erdogan.
The Ergenekon trial was conducted also by judicial circles close to the Hizmet movement of Fetullah Gulen, preacher and Turkish political scientist who at the time was still an ally of Erdogan, but soon come into conflict with the strong man of Turkish politics, up to the point of having to emigrate to the US and labeled by Turkish pro-government circles as the author of international conspiracies aimed at hitting the leadership of Erdogan.
After this reversal of relations between Erdogan and "gulens" (culminating with the recent accusation against Gulen of being the instigator of the failed coup of 15 July 2016), the same Hizmet movement was branded by the apparatuses and the pro-government press as a "terrorist organization", and also the trial for the massacre of Malatya was conditioned by convulsions and reversals of scenery and alliances within the Turkish apparatuses (see Fides 04/06/12016). During the hearings, some witnesses claimed that the trial for the massacre of the Christians had been manipulated by circles close to Fetullah Gulen who wanted to use it to condemn their opponents.
In June 2014 general Hursit Tolon, suspected of being the instigator of the murders was released, while in the last months of that year, three other prisoners who had just been freed began to attribute the triple murder to members of the Hizmet movement of Fetullah Gulen. Over the past two years, all twenty detainees accused of the involvement in the triple murder had been granted parole. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 30/09/2016)