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Turkey: Nine Years After Murder

Nine years after the torture and killing of three Christians in 2007, a civil court in Turkey has ruled that the Turkish government failed in its duty to protect them. On April 18, 2007, Ugur Yüksel, Necati Aydin and Tilmann Geske (German) were murdered at the Zirve Publishing House, a Christian organization where all three worked. The brutal killing was carried out by five youths who were detained at the scene and were each found with identical notes reading: “We did this for our country…. They are attacking our religion.”

The Jan. 26 civil court verdict found that both the Turkish interior ministry and Malatya governor’s office ignored reliable intelligence that Turkish nationalists were targeting the three Christians prior to their murder. The court has ordered the interior ministry to pay close to 1 million Turkish lira (US $333,980) to the victims’ families.

Susanne Geske, Tilmann’s widow, says that she does not believe the three families will see the money anytime soon. Court appeals could potentially take years to settle. The money is welcome, but she says it is hard to place a monetary value on her husband’s life, or the lives of the other two men who died for their faith.

Aydin family
Necati Aydin’s wife, Semse, and two children

While there is at least some resolution in the civil matter, the families wonder if there will ever be an end to the criminal case. The trial has been repeatedly stalled for several reasons, including political maneuvers, the removal of judges and changes to the prosecution. With the discovery of a connection to a larger nationalistic organization known as Ergenkon, more arrests have been made and new witnesses have been identified. Many of these witnesses have been uncooperative and have made threats against the three families. The outcome of the civil trial will not have an impact on the criminal proceedings. The next hearing is scheduled for March 1.

Nine years later, the families are still trying to move forward, but the stress of the trials and threats have been difficult. A new reform law that limits pretrial detentions to a maximum of five years resulted in the release of all five suspects in March 2014. Though ordered to house arrest and fitted with electronic monitoring systems, the men have been seen walking freely through Malatya.

Pray for the three families of the men who were killed, asking the Lord to continue to bring healing in their lives. Pray also for the men’s murderers that they will repent and turn to Jesus Christ.

Posted: February 10, 2016

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