By BosNewsLife News Center
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (BosNewsLife)– Minority Christians in Turkey were observing Thursday, April 18, the sixth anniversary of the murders of three evangelical Christians in the Turkish city of Malatya, amid concerns about death threats against a legal counsel of the victims’ families.
On 18 April 2007, Turkish citizens Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and Tillman Geske, a German national, were tortured and killed at the offices of Zirve Publishing House, a Christian publishing house, by five young Muslims, according to investigators.
Additionally Erdal Dogan, a prominent human rights defender supporting the victims’ families, has received death threats, including from one of the defendants, Varol Bulent Aral, trial observers said.
Aral reportedly threatened the lawyer during a hearing last month.
The trial of the five alleged murderers began in November 2007 at the Third Criminal Court in Malatya in eastern Turkey but it has been prolonged as prosecutors aim to prove the killings were part of a high-level plot to overthrow the government through
acts of terror.
In September 2012, shortly before the next phase of the trial, two judges and two prosecutors were removed by the Turkish Justice Ministry, “leaving just one judge familiar with the case,” noted advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
“On the sixth anniversary of their deaths, we celebrate the lives of Necati, Ugur and Tilman, and once more offer up prayers for their families, friends and for all those working on this case,” said CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston.
“They have not been forgotten, and we are committed to monitoring the progress of this case through the courts until justice is finally served,” he added in a statement to BosNewsLife.
Christians comprise less than 0.2 percent of the country’s over 80 million population, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and church leaders have expressed concerns about Islamic threats and several attacks against Christians in the Muslim-majority country.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).