Reports On The 1st Malatya Hearing

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    Date: November 23, 2007

    By BosNewsLife News Center

    ANKARA, TURKEY (BosNewsLife)– A Turkish prosecutor on Friday, November 23, demanded life in prison for five men charged with killing three Christians at a publishing house, but the trial was adjourned until January as defense attorneys asked for more time to prepare themselves.

    The three Christians, two Turks and a German, had their throats slit by youths who burst into their Christian publishing house in the eastern town of Malatya on April 18, the latest attack on Christians and other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim Turkey.

    According to prosecutors the motive for the murders of 35-year-old Necati Aydin, 32-year-old Ugur Yuksel and German national, 46-year- old Tilmann Geske, was that the three were involved in missionary activities. “We didn't do this for ourselves, but for our fatherland and for our faith,” the attackers were quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper just after the murders. “That should teach the enemies of our faith a lesson.”

    Geske had lived in Turkey for a decade. His wife, Susanne Geske, who attended Friday's opening hearing along with several foreign diplomats and an international media circus, said: “I believe in justice and the secular system in this country,” Anatolia news agency reported.


    Yet, she told reporters earlier that she does “not hate the murderers.” She said, “I believe that my husband did not die in vain. His death has a meaning for Turkey and all Christians living in Malatya and in the region.” She said her husband had invited people into his home for Bible study, taught English and German, and helped send Turkish children to school abroad.

    The couple lived with their three young children in Malatya, members of a tiny Christian community numbering less than 20. In Turkey, Christians and other non-Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the population of 71 million.

    Susan Geske has said her husband was sensitive to his Muslim neighbors and was not one to push his faith on others. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human rights lawyer who represented one of the slain Christians, Necati Aydin, 26, in an earlier court case, claimed on Friday that the victims were widely targeted in the local media for their work, Anatolia reported.


    At least three Christian families have reportedly moved out of Malatya after the murders. The stabbings were the latest in a series of attacks against 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 nationalists killed the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

    Speaking a few days after the murders, Isa Karatas, speaker for the Union of Turkish Churches said in published remarks it was very clear his friends were killed for their beliefs. “Of course they had been receiving threats,” Karatas said “Is it possible to evangelize in Turkey and not get threatened? Their only guilt was believing in Jesus and being open about it. They died for their faith.”

    Turkey is a candidate for European Union membership, but the organization has asked Ankara to protect human rights of the country's ethnic and religious minorities, as a precondition for joining the rich block.

    Germany has reportedly accused Turkey of “unacceptable intolerance” towards non-Muslims. However Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made clear he condemned the killings. The trial was to resume, January 14. (With reporting from Turkey and BosNewsLife Research).


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