October 3, 2016 – by Christine Williams

Despite the conviction and sentencing, however, all five walked out of court free men while their case awaits higher legal review, infuriating Turkish Christians.

Gokhan Talas, close friend of the three slain Christians and witness at the murder scene, said……They need to be in jail right now…This process is unjust. There’s no justice for Christians in this country. This is the proof of that.

How much justice is there for Christians (and other infidels and apostates) in any Muslim country? But Turkey has, of course, long been known as “moderate”; as recently as 2012, Turkey was referenced as a “new model.”

The Brookings Institution declared: In Turkey, a tradition of free and fair elections and capitalism has encouraged Islamic parties to play by the rules. Turkey’s radical secularism, enforced by the military, has also tamed the strident religious dogma that once landed Islamic politicians in trouble—and even in prison.

Now, however, as Erdogan’s Turkey is casting off secularism and Islamizing, Westerners are still often fooled into believing that Turkey remains a moderate ally to the West and even a security partner. In contrast, persecution Watchdog Open Doors reported a few months ago on the real face of Turkey:

Fifteen Turkish Protestant congregations and their leaders have been targeted by a strident campaign of death threats sent to their Facebook, email, websites and mobile telephones. One of the messages warned: ‘Perverted infidels, the time that we will strike your necks is soon. May Allah receive the glory and praise’. ….A link was also posted for an Arabic video subtitled in Turkish on YouTube entitled, ‘The religious proofs why apostates should be killed’.

Even more recently — since the Turkish coup attempt — Christians reportedly have been paying a stiff price “as extreme Islam surges.” Recall that Erdogan has also virulently denied the Armenian Genocide.

Erdogan’s unjustified and “unhinged” hatred of Israel is yet another troubling matter. In fact, Jews are the target of most hate speech in Turkey.

Given the reality of Turkey’s anti-democracy, anti-Christian, anti-Jew record,  and its advancing Islamization, it would be advisable to withhold celebrations of justice until the “Killers of Malatya Martyrs” actually make it into Turkish prison.

After a nine-year legal saga, a Turkish criminal court today sentenced five men to life in prison for the torture and murder of three Christians in southeast Turkey in 2007.

The Malatya First Heavy Penal Court found Salih Gurler, Cuma Ozdemir, Abuzer Yildirim, Hamit Ceker, and Emre Gunaydin guilty on three counts each of premeditated murder, and sentenced them all to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Despite the conviction and sentencing, however, all five walked out of court free men while their case awaits higher legal review, infuriating Turkish Christians.

Gokhan Talas, close friend of the three slain Christians and witness at the murder scene, said he was “okay” with the decision, but was angry that the convicted men walked away free while the sentence is reviewed by higher courts.

“They need to be in jail right now,” Talas said. “This process is unjust. There’s no justice for Christians in this country. This is the proof of that. They are just hiding behind the laws. These people are killers.”

In a press release issued by the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, chairman and pastor Ihsan Ozbek echoed Talas’s dismay that the perpetrators were free despite being handed life sentences.

“Of course the legal process will continue as the case passes to the Regional Administrative Court, and then will go to the Supreme Court. This process can take years, and the killers of our brothers brutally murdered can move around freely for years to come,” Ozbek said. “The continuous postponement of the punishment they deserve severely wounds confidence in justice.”

On April 18, 2007, in the office of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya in southeastern Turkey, Gurler, Ozdemir, Yildirim, Ceker, and Gunaydin killed Ugur Yüksel, 32, and Necati Aydin, 36, both Turkish converts from Islam, as well as Tilmann Geske, 45, a German national. The five Muslim, Turkish nationalists bound the three men, interrogated them about their Christian activities, mutilated them, and then slit their throats, according to court evidence and testimony.

Police arrested the five men almost immediately after the crime was reported. Gunaydin attempted to escape police by jumping out of an upstairs window of the office and suffered serious injuries. Several others were later arrested in connection with the crime, including Turna I??kl?, Gunaydin’s girlfriend.

According to several Christians close to those killed, one or more of those arrested cultivated relationships with the victims. Several Christians said Gunaydin went so far as to pose as being interested in the Christian faith or even becoming a Christian to get as close as possible to the three men.

When they were arrested, at least one of the suspects had a note claiming they committed the slaying for their country.

“They are trying to take our country away, take our religion away,” the note read in part.

Gunaydin today showed no remorse. According to Ozbek, Gunaydin told the court regarding the killing, “I am thankful that I did not shame my country or cause any embarrassment.”

Today’s hearing was the 115th hearing in the trial. The number of hearings, and the fact that the case took so long to prosecute, was the source of a great deal of anguish for Turkey’s Christians.

In 2008, the court held its first hearing in the case, but the proceedings were problematic and difficult from the start. The judges and prosecutors were changed more than once, causing significant delays, and subpoenaed witnesses simply refused to show up in court to testify without legitimate reason and without being punished later for contempt of court.

Most significant in delays was the attempt to explore links between the killings and a larger alleged attempt by the Turkish military to subvert the Justice and Development Party-led government. There was much speculation that arrests of lawyers and judges in the wake of a coup attempt in July would further delay proceedings.

From the beginning of the trial, Gunaydin was portrayed as the leader of the attack, with links to nationalist groups and to nationalist writer Varol Bulent Aral. According to testimony by Gunaydin, Aral urged the killing of the Christians and said he would have support of the state, meaning hardcore nationalists within the military.

In 2009, the murder case was linked to the Ergenekon file, concerning a suspected cabal plotting against the government. As a result of this, a host of new witnesses were called into court, including a colonel in the gendarmerie and three army officers.

Ozbek referred to the efforts to investigate those connections in his press statement.

“Today the judge explained the verdict saying that the murders could not have taken place without connections to a [criminal] organization, but it was important for the court to admit that they had not exposed this connection,” he said, adding that the court ruled, in its own words, “Yes, there is an organization, but [the court] did not find the link.”

Especially galling to families of the victims was that the five suspects on March 10, 2014, were released on bail under a new reform law that reduced the allowable period of pretrial detention from 10 years to 5 years. Under public pressure, authorities required them to wear electronic monitoring devices, a practice that continues after the conviction. But the release has caused extreme distress among the families and friends of the victims.

The suspects had in the past threatened family members of the victims. At one point after the release in March, Talas’s wife suffered a nervous breakdown due to stress and was hospitalized, Talas told Morning Star News. He said the continued freedom of the now convicted killers leaves him “very concerned.”……


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