The Bible publishing firm murders in Malatya
took place on April 18
in Zirve Publishing House, Malatya
. Three employees of the Bible
publishing house were attacked, tortured and murdered by five Muslim
assailants. Two of the victims, Necati Aydın, 36, and Uğur Yüksel, 32, were Turkish converts from Islam
. The third man, Tilmann Geske, 45, was a German
citizen. Necati Aydın was an actor who played the role of Jesus Christ
in a theater production that the TURK-7 network aired over the Easter
holidays. The underground nationalist Ergenekon network
has been suspected of involvement in this case.
Aydın is survived by his wife, Şemse, and a son and daughter, both preschool age. Tilmann is survived by his wife Susanne and three children aged 8 to 13. Yüksel was engaged to be married within a few months.
Protests had taken place at the firm after it was accused of "proselytizing" a Muslim nation, but it is not known if the murders are related to the protests.
According to the human rights group International Christian Concern
(ICC), the troubles began on Easter Sunday when the alleged killers, one of whom is the son of a mayor, attended a service led by Pastor Aydın. "After [Aydın] read a chapter from the Bible, the young men tied [Yüksel, Aydın, and Geske’s] hands and feet to chairs as they videoed their work on their cell phones
." Afterwards they were heavily tortured. Gökhan Talas, the chief witness and a Protestant, came with his wife to the office. The door was locked from inside which was quite unusual. Suspecting that something had happened, he called Uğur Yüksel not knowing that he was inside tied to a chair. Yüksel replied and said that they were in a hotel for a meeting. Talas heard someone crying in the background during his talk with Yüksel, and decided to call the police, who arrived soon thereafter. According to Talas, the attackers killed Yüksel and Aydın after the police arrived.
- "[I condemn the attacks] in the strongest terms. [We will] do everything to clear up this crime completely and bring those responsible to justice," said Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German Foreign Minister.
- "This is savagery," said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish Prime Minister.
- "Missionary work is even more dangerous than terrorism and unfortunately is not considered a crime in Turkey," said Niyazi Güney, Justice Ministry Statutes Directorate General Manager.
- The massacre was protested by Malatyaspor supporters in a soccer competition between Malatyaspor and Gençlerbirliği.
Eleven suspects were apprehended after the attack. The chief suspect, Yunus Emre Günaydın, was treated for serious wounds after he attempted to jump out of a window to escape police. All of the alleged killers are between 19 and 20 years old.
Günaydın was born in 1988 in Malatya and had no previous convictions. One suspect confessed that "The leader of the group was Emre. It was he who devised the plan to kill them. We went to the publishing house together. When we entered the place, we tied them to their chairs and Emre slit their throats". According to another suspect, the victims knew Günaydın, as he regularly visited the publishing house. Another suspect added that they all knew each other.
The verdict of the "Nöbetçi Sulh Ceza Mahkemesi" court was to jail Hamit Çeker, Salih Güler, Abuzer Yıldırım, and Cuma Özdemir for the crimes of establishing a terrorist organization, being a member of a terrorist organization, homicide, and depriving of one's liberties. Turna Işıklı, Emre Günaydın's girlfriend, was also arrested for aiding a terrorist organization. The car that the attackers were planning to use during their escape was rented by Salih Güler. According to eyewitnesses, Günaydın and his four accomplices practiced shooting two days before the event.
After being released from hospital in May 2007, Günaydın admitted to his guilt in his first interrogation.
The High Criminal Court heard the case in 2008. On the tenth day of the hearing, Günaydın said that a journalist, Varol Bülent Aral, had told him that the missionary work was connected to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Günaydın stated, "He told me that Christianity and the missionary work done in its name had the goal of destroying then the motherland. I asked him if someone should not stop this? He told me to then get up and stop this. I asked him how it could be done. He said they would provide us with the state support." The prosecutors then demanded a copy of the Ergenekon indictment concerning an alleged high-level cabal, and the judge agreed to request this from the High Criminal Court in Istanbul. Asked about a document that he was alleged to have written, Günaydın denied any connection with retired Major General Levent Ersöz, who was arrested with reference to the Ergenekon case, or the Istanbul president of an ultra-nationalist association, Levent Temiz.
At the 11th hearing, on 12 September 2008, the chief suspect's girlfriend, Turna Işıklı, said that she already knew before the murders that he was going to be under interrogation on the day after they were committed.
- Carswell, Jonathan; Wright, Joanna; Baum, Markus: Susanne Geske: "Ich will keine Rache" - Das Drama von Malatya. Brunnen-Verlag, Gießen 2008, ISBN 978-3765519857