Suspects in key murders of minority members ‘similar’

Suspects in key murders of minority members ‘similar’

Suspects in key murders of minority members ‘similar’

This file photo shows Armenian-Turkish scribe who was assassinated in 2007. The profiles of suspects in murder cases of minorities are same, a judge says.

A judge in the Zirve Yayınevi case has pointed out the similarities between the suspected perpetrators behind the Zirve killings and the Hrant Dink and Father Santoro murders.

 “The one who killed Father Santoro in Trabzon was 17 years old, just as the convict in the Hrant Dink murder. Also, the five assailants who committed the Malatya Zirve Publishing House massacre were of the same age group,” Judge Hayretin Kısa said during a hearing.

Father Santoro was shot dead in 2006 by a 16-year-old high school student while kneeling in prayer in Trabzon. On Jan. 19, 2007, Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor-in-chief of weekly Agos, was murdered in front of the Agos building in central Istanbul by a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist. On April 18, 2007, 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.

The case continued yesterday with a hearing in Malatya, during which Varol Bülent Aral, one of the suspects under arrest and the alleged instigator, claimed that Emre Günaydın carried out the publishing house murders for money.

Hurşit Tolon, the former general who is also charged with being behind the killings, was absent at yesterday’s hearing as he is imprisoned in Istanbul’s Silivri jail in connection to the Ergenekon trial, an investigation into a plot to topple the government.

 “The judge’s statements demonstrate to what extent he takes the indictment seriously. If he did not take this indictment so seriously, he would have neither made such comments nor accepted the indictment,” Erdal Doğan, one of the lawyers of the case, told the Daily News on the phone yesterday
Doğan said the members of the court board should not be changed for the benefit of the case. “Last September, two prosecutors in the case were assigned to other duties. However, they were the critical names who prepared the indictment and witnessed all the developments of the case process. It is very hard for a newly appointed one to receive a comprehensive file with hundreds of pages,” Doğan said.

During her recent visit to Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had reportedly asked the head of the Protestant Churches Union, Umut Şahin, whether they were hopeful about the progress of the Zirve Publishing House case.

Noting Merkel’s question, Doğan said, “Germany has a crucial role to enlighten this massacre; but it won’t be solved by following it from a distance. The documents in the first indictment clearly show Ergenekon’s extensions in Germany and [the gang’s] cash flow. Legal institutions in Germany have to share all these data and documents for the progress of the case.”

Vercihan Ziflioğlu from Istanbul contributed to this report.