Necati Aydin, Tilman Geske and Ugur Yuksel, (L to R) who were martyred by Muslims in Turkey
All five suspects who are on trial in Turkey for the deaths of three Christian martyrs allegedly slain in a vicious attack by Muslims who had agreed to meet them at a Bible publishing house have denied responsibility, instead pointing fingers at each other.
Compass Direct, which has been documenting the case, said court testimonies by the five suspects were completed this week during a sixth hearing before Malatya’s 3rd Criminal Court.
“All have insisted that they had not planned to murder anyone and that no individuals or group instigated their raid on the Zirve Publishing Co. office in Malatya on April 18, 2007,” the report said.
As WND has reported, Tilman Geske of Germany and Turkish nationals Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel died in the attack. Authorities have said they reportedly met several Muslims for a Bible study, then were tied up, stabbed and tortured for several hours before their throats were slit.
Now Compass Direct reports that the alleged ringleader, Emre Gunaydin, has stated in a letter to the court that, “Our purpose was just to gather information and give it to the press.”
Turkey’s secularist establishment, made up of the army, professors and parts of the judiciary, sees the headscarf as a threat to Turkey’s secular state and a symbol of political Islam. The court challenge to the headscarf amendment was filed by secularist opposition party, CHP.
The AK Party, which was elected with 47 percent of the vote last year, defends the use of the headscarf in universities as a matter of religious and personal freedom, and says some two-thirds of Turkish women cover their heads.
The closure case, filed by the chief prosecutor of the Court of Appeals, has hit Turkey’s financial markets and the European Union candidate country faces months of uncertainty.
The AK Party, which has its roots in political Islam but is also reformist and pro-business, denies the charges and says the case is politically motivated.
As well as closing the party, the prosecutor wants 71 party officials, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, banned from politics for five years.
The Constitutional Court is dealing with both cases, having agreed to take up the closure case at the end of March. Eight of the court’s 11 judges were appointed by former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a secularist opponent of the AK Party.
Turkey has banned more than 20 political parties for alleged Islamist or Kurdish separatist activities.
A rapporteur to Turkey’s top court said on Friday it should reject a challenge to a ruling party reform which allows university students to wear the Muslim headscarf, broadcaster CNN Turk reported.
The rapporteur’s report, which state news agency Anatolian said had been presented to the Constitutional Court, is not binding, but has to be presented to judges before the case can proceed.
The headscarf case is being monitored for clues to the possible outcome of a separate, more critical case which aims to close the ruling AK Party for alleged Islamist activities in officially secular Turkey.
The ruling party’s move to lift the headscarf ban in universities was seen as a catalyst for the closure case, the indictment for which is packed with references to the headscarf.