MALATYA - Seven police officers receive a five-month suspended sentence each after being found guilty of dereliction of duty in the case where three people, one of whom was a German citizen, were found murdered in the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya for alleged missionary actions.
In a statement, Malatya Police Chief Ali Osman Kahya said the Interior Ministry had initiated an inquiry into claims that a gun was found on one of the murder suspects a day before the attack on the Zirve Publishing House occurred but was given back to the suspect.
The statement said suspects were detained by police April 27, 2008, for firing a gun in the air. The police confiscated the gun and then returned it to the suspect. The murders took place the next day and a gun found in Zirve Publishing House’s office was recorded as matching the one taken by police a day earlier. The inquiry led to a trial and the court found seven officers guilty of dereliction of duty.
Three people, German citizen Tilman Ekkehart Geske, and Necati Aydın and Uğur Yüksel, were murdered in the Zirve Publishing House, which was engaged in Christian missionary activities. Four suspects were caught by police at the crime scene and another was caught as he jumped out the window when police arrived. The suspects said they had carried out the murders because of the missionary activities. Currently seven suspects are being tried on charges of murder, seizure and depredation. During the trial, six of the suspects claimed they were not involved in any of the murders, and accused the seventh of murdering the victims. They had also claimed that their participation in the incident was based on their fear of the seventh suspect.The vicious attack came as a shock to the country, especially after a string of violent attacks and murders against Christians.
The murders have also been linked to the controversial Ergenekon investigation, in which an alleged criminal organization is being accused of trying to create instability in the country through certain crimes in order to topple the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government.
Families want compensation
The families of the victims demanded compensation last year from the Interior Ministry for failing to prevent the murders.
The lawyer for Susanna Geske, Tilman's wife, said they demanded 630,000 Turkish Liras from the ministry for each of the victims, arguing that the ministry was guilty of not protecting the three individuals.
Geske's lawyer İbrahim Kalı said if the ministry rejected their application, they would lodge a complaint at court. "In such cases, one must first apply to the Interior Ministry. For example, if a bomb explodes and my child's foot is blown off, the state is held responsible. That's what the courts say," he said.