Necati Aydin, Tilman Geske and Ugur Yuksel, (L to R) who were martyred by Muslims in Turkey
Lawyers prosecuting the murder of three Christians at a publishing house in Turkey say there may have been a larger organized force behind the five individuals suspected in the deaths.
WND has reported on the attack at the Zirve Publishing Co. office in Malatya April 18, 2007.
All five suspects in previous court appearances have pointed fingers at each other for the deaths of Tilman Geske of Germany and Turkish nationals Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel.
Authorities reportedly have said they met several Muslims for a Bible study, then were tied up, stabbed and tortured for several hours before their throats were slit.
According to a new report from Compass Direct, which has been documenting the case, attorneys working on the case now are lining up witnesses in their attempt to expand the list of defendants from the five Muslims to “subversive forces at the top of state power.”
The report said the evidence being assembled indicates the murders were instigated not by individuals but by Ergenekon, “a loose collection of ultra-nationalist generals, businessmen, mafia and journalists who planned to engineer a coup d’état in Turkey.”
At a hearing in Malatya’s 3rd Criminal Court just days ago, the lawyers said they wanted to call as a witness Ergun Poyraz, a journalist linked to the organization.
Investigators are searching for links that led to the murders, including the role of the district police chief, Ali Osman Kahya, the report said.
“In the course of the publishing house murders, Ali Osman Kahya was the head of Malatya security forces, which is no coincidence,” attorney Murat Dincer told Compass Direct.
He said Kahya had been in similar positions of authority during other political murders.
The report said an inquiry has been launched, and if officials decide there is a connection, the Malatya murders could become part of a larger investigation. If not, the five suspects probably will go on trial for murder within a few months.
Named so far as defendants are suspected ringleader Emre Gunaydin, Salih Gürler, Cuma Ozdemir, Hamit Ceker and Abuzer Yildirim. They have been in jail for the past 18 months awaiting court proceedings.
The report said the Ergenekon organization previously was blamed for murders of other high-profile Christians.
Christians, who make up less than 1 percent of the population in Turkey, have been subjected to numerous attacks in recent years. In 2006, a Turkish teen shot to death a Roman Catholic priest as he prayed in his church. Two other priests were attacked the same year. Early in 2007 came the death of Armenian Christian editor Hrant Dink.
When the publishing house attack became known, Geske’s widow, Susanne, responded in a way that hit the front pages of the nation’s largest newspapers.
“Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23.34), according to a letter Christians in Turkey have written to the worldwide church, released through Voice of the Martyrs.
“In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne [Geske] has changed lives,” the letter said. “One columnist wrote of her comment, ‘She said in one sentence what 1,000 missionaries in 1,000 years could never do.’”
Titled “A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna,” it was publicized shortly after the slayings by VOM, the ministry organization that works with persecuted Christians.
VOM noted that 2,000 years earlier, this location of Christians was addressed in Rev. 2:8-11: “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write… ‘Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation 10 days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.’”
The letter told of a Bible study planned that morning involving the three Christians and apparently five Muslims who had been invited.
“No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story,” the letter said.
“The young men got guns, bread knives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible study, around 10 o’clock,” the letter said. “Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours.”