ZIRVE TRIAL SUSPECT: I WAS THREATENED WITH DEATH IN PRISON
Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Oct 30 2013
30 October 2013 /EÅ~^REF AKGUN, MALATYA
A suspect under arrest in the Zirve trial, which concerns the brutal
murder of three Christian missionaries in Malatya in 2007, said during
Wednesday’s hearing that he has been threatened with death by two
convicts of other crimes who are also involved in this case.
Huseyin Yelki, a suspect accused of instigating the murder of three
missionaries, told the court that he was raised as a Muslim but became
interested in Christianity in 2001 and opened Zirve Publishing House,
formerly known as Kayra. Yelki said he worked at the publishing
house with the three slain missionaries, Tilman Ekkehart Geske,
Necati AydÄ±n and Ugur Yuksel, until the murders took place.
According to Yelki’s testimony, he and the other three employees
of the publishing house were threatened anonymously, after media
claims about missionary activities there. Yelki said the front door
of Geske’s house was stained with blood as a warning.
Yelki also claimed that he met Sgt. Murat GÃ¶kturk, who was serving
at the Malatya Gendarmerie Command, at the publishing house before the
murders. Yelki told the court GÃ¶kturk asked for a Bible and after he
left the publishing house, he heard GÃ¶kturk implying to someone on the
phone that he worked at JÄ°TEM — a clandestine and illegal gendarmerie
intelligence unit whose existence has been officially denied.
During the 85th hearing of the trial, tight security measures were
taken inside and outside the Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court from early
in the morning. Suspects under arrest were brought to the court from
prison. Suzanne Geske, wife of slain German Tilman Ekkehart Geske,
and plaintiff lawyers attended the trial with bodyguards.
Gen. HurÅ~_it Tolon, a former 1st Army Corps commander who is among the
suspects accused of leading a clandestine terrorist organization, was
not present at the hearing. Tolon was sentenced to life imprisonment
on Aug. 5 in the Ergenekon coup plot trial.
Other suspects, including former Malatya Gendarmerie Commander Col.
Mehmet Ulger, Major Haydar YeÅ~_il, Ä°nÃ¶nu University academic Ruhi
Abat attended the hearing.
On April 18, 2007, Necati AydÄ±n and Ugur Yuksel, along with German
national Geske, were tied to their chairs, stabbed and tortured at
the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya before having their throats slit.
The publishing house printed Bibles and Christian literature.
The indictment into the case stated that the Zirve murders were
carried out as part of the Cage Action Plan, a subversive plot
allegedly devised by military officers that sought to undermine the
government through assassinations and other acts of terrorism against
non-Muslims in Turkey.
The Cage plan was allegedly drawn up on the orders of Ergenekon. Cage
plan documents specifically refer to the killings of Armenian-Turkish
journalist Hrant Dink and Catholic priest Father Andrea Santoro as
well as the Zirve murders as an “operation.”
The indictment accuses the suspects of inciting murder, establishing
a terrorist organization, membership in a terrorist organization and
working to overthrow the government.