Christian missionaries' murder trial starts in Turkey

25th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 November 2007, Ankara (dpa) - The trial of five men accused of torturing and murdering three Christian missionaries got under way in the central Turkish city of Malatya on Friday with prosecutors demanding life imprisonment sentences. The five are charged with establishing a terrorist organization and murder. Two others are also charged with establishing a terrorist organization and face up to 10 years imprisonment. On April 18 the five men allegedly broke into into the offices of a small Christian publ

25 November 2007

Ankara (dpa) - The trial of five men accused of torturing and murdering three Christian missionaries got under way in the central Turkish city of Malatya on Friday with prosecutors demanding life imprisonment sentences.

The five are charged with establishing a terrorist organization and murder. Two others are also charged with establishing a terrorist organization and face up to 10 years imprisonment.

On April 18 the five men allegedly broke into into the offices of a small Christian publishing firm in Malatya, tied up three men and then murdered them by slashing their throats. The men were all arrested at the scene of the crime.

Two other men are on trial on charges of "forming a terrorist organization" and face up to 10 years imprisonment.

According to prosecutors the motive for the murders of Necati Aydin, 35, Ugur Yuksel, 32, and German national Tilmann Geske, 46, was that the three were involved in missionary activities.

A lawyer representing the families of the three murdered men complained to the court that the prosecutor's indictment contains the names and addresses of all the members of the Protestant community in Turkey.

"This makes every one of our friends a target," Mehmet Ali Kocak told the court.

Another lawyer for the families told the court that the three men were targeted by the local press merely because they Christians.

"Before all the murders occurred, if you look at the news that was published in the media you can see how those individuals were shown as targets," Orhan Kemal Cengiz told the court.

"In Malatya, especially in the local press, this campaign was very obviously carried out (before the murders), and it is still continuing," he said.

The wife of one of the murdered men told the court that she believed that justice would ultimately prevail.

"My children were born here. I love this city and I want to continue living here. After the murder the people of the neighbourhood all came to our house to pay their respects. The imam of the mosque came to offer his condolences. I have faith in this country's secular system and in justice," German national Susanne Geske said.

Lawyers for the defendants on Friday said they needed more time to prepare their defence and the trial was adjourned until 14 January.

The stabbings were the latest in a string of attacks on Christians in Turkey. In February 2006 a teenager shot dead an Italian priest in the Black Sea city of Trabzon and earlier this year a Turkish nationalist killed the Armenian Orthodoz journalist Hrant Dink outside of his office in Istanbul.

DPA

Subject: German news

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