The 95th hearing of Zirve trial held at Malatya court

MALATYA (CIHAN)- The 95th hearing of Zirve publishing house trial in which three Christian publishers, being two Turks and one German citizen were killed in central Anatolian province of Malatya, has started on Monday.

Tightened security measures were taken around the Malatya’s 1st Criminal Court building from early hours of the day. Defendants of the trial Emre GunaydIn, Salih Gurler and Abuzer YIldIrIm who were released on probation before, were brought to the courthouse by police vehicles. Defendants under arrest Mehmet ulger, Haydar YeIil and Ruhi Abat also were ready at the hearing. Three more defendants Varol Bulent Aral, Hamit eker and Cuma zdemir attended the hearing by video teleconference method from different prisons across Turkey.

On April 18, 2007, Christians Necati AydIn (35), UIur Yuksel and German national Tilmann Ekkehart Geske (46) were tied to chairs, stabbed and tortured at the Zirve Publishing House in the southeastern city of Malatya the torture ended with their throats being slit. The publishing house they worked for printed Bibles and other Christian literature.

Four of the suspects, Abuzer YIldIrIm, Cuma zdemir, Salih Gurler and Hamit eker, were apprehended at the scene and immediately taken into custody, while the fifth suspect, Emre GunaydIn, jumped from a third-story window in a failed attempt to escape from police. He was also taken into custody after being treated for injuries.

Meanwhile, per a law that decreased the maximum period of detention to five years, 17 suspects of Zirve trial, including Emre GunaydIn, Abuzer YIldIrIm, Cuma zdemir, Hamit eker, Salih Gurler and one of the number one suspects General HurIit Tolon were released pending trial.

Many believe that the murders were premeditated, and that a campaign against missionaries in Malatya and other parts of Turkey at the time was launched by a clandestine unit called the National Strategies and Operations Department of Turkey (TUSHAD), allegedly established by Tolon in 1993. The Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Tolon, who denied any involvement in the Zirve Publishing House massacre.