Turkish general to testify in murder trial
Three missionaries were tortured before having their throats slit at the Zirve Publishing House in this building. Hürriyet photoformer top commander of the Turkish armed forces has been called to testify as a suspect in the ongoing case of murder of three missionaries.
Three missionaries, German citizen Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before having their throats slit at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publisher, in the eastern province of Malatya on April 18, 2007.
Five young men, aged 19 and 20 at the time of the killings, confessed to the murder and were arrested for the crime. However, authorities have been continuing to investigate the matter, which is believed by many to be an act of the “deep state” rather than a group of independent fanatics.
Shedding light on murders
The testimony of Gen. Hurşit Tolon, who has been under arrest in the ongoing Ergenekon coup plot, may shed light on the case, according Erdal Doğan, the lawyer of the Zirve case.
“The court’s call is very important, but more is needed to be done to shed light on the murders,” said Doğan. He also added that the ongoing coup plot cases such as Ergenekon, Balyoz, Kafes and the Action Plan against Reactionism cases must be joined in this case.
“The Malatya Zirve Publishing house massacre, as well as the Father Santaro and Father Padovese murders, were presented as ‘missionary murders,’ but this was a big mistake,” said Doğan.
“On the one hand they stirred up Christian hostility among society and on the other hand they tried to make up a reducing perception to cover the murders,” he said.
Doğan, who is also one of the lawyers of slain Armenian-origin Hrant Dink’s family, said this step would contribute to moving forward in other cases as well.
“This will let other connected cases like the Peder Santoro, Hrant Dink and Peder Padovese murders to be enlightened.”
On of the important links in the massacre chains, the Hrant Dink murder, may have a new dimension once Tolon is tried as a suspect, he added. The other critical hearing of the Malatya Publishing House Massacre will be held on June 18, Doğan said.
The Malatya massacre was not the first of its kind. In 2006, Father Andrea Santoro of the Catholic Church of Santa Maria in Trabzon was murdered. One year later, editor-in-chief of Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, Hrant Dink, was murdered in Istanbul on Jan 19.
Four months later, the Malatya massacre took place, in which German citizen Tillman Geske and two Turks, Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were tied up and tortured before having their throats slit.
Daily News reporter Vercihan Ziflioğlu contributed to this report.