Shadowy connections in Bible publisher murder case in Turkey

An investigation of phone calls made by five suspects in a deadly attack on a Bible publisher in Malatya has revealed unexpected connections.

Shadowy connections in Bible publisher murder case in Turkey
Transcripts of phone conversations revealed in an investigation of the torturing and brutal murder of three Christians in the city of Malatya in April have raised serious questions about the involvement of agencies linked to the military or the state in the killings, Turkish media reports noted yesterday.

The first hearing in the trial of five men accused of torturing and murdering two Turkish and one German Christian in April took place in Malatya in the southeast of Turkey at the end of last month. The court has adjourned until Jan. 14, 2008.

Although the murders first appeared to be a hate crime, transcripts of recently discovered phone conversations between the suspects and public figures such as prosecutors, military officials and candidate parliamentary deputies point in an entirely different direction.

The phone calls made by the five suspects, Emre Günaydın, Hamit Çeker, Abuzer Yıldırım, Cuma Özdemir and Salih Gürler, who attacked the Bible publisher Zirve Publishing house on Apr. 18, have revealed unexpected connections, reported dailies Radikal, Milliyet, Taraf and Hürriyet.

The newspapers, which claimed to have acquired the case files comprised of 31 folders, said the transcripts took up many pages in the files. A security officer, a chief public prosecutor, a writer, a parliamentary deputy candidate and even members of special military forces are among the figures the suspects conversed with during the six months prior to the murders. The reports did not provide names but included initials of the individuals who had many phone conversations with some of the six suspects, except for the writer who was identified as Celal Al-i Ahmed, author of the books "The Plague that Came from the West" and "The Westernization Disease."

The newspaper also said transcripts of the phone conversations and the murky connections the suspects have with individuals employed by state agencies or the military that came out during the preliminary probe did not go into the indictment.

A man associated with the defendants sent a letter of confession to Turkish churches after the murders in which he indicated that the attack was initiated by a university lecturer and members of the gendarmerie. This letter was also not investigated by the public prosecutor. Yesterday's newspaper reporters said, according to the case files, the writer of the letter was proven to be assigned the task of setting up a video recording system in the hospital room of Günaydın, who spent days in a Malatya hospital after falling off the publishing house's window while trying to escape. However, the whereabouts of the recordings, which are invaluable evidence as to who visited Günaydın in his hospital days, are also a mystery.

Suspect Gürler changed his cell phone number 38 times in the six months prior to the day of the murder, while Günaydın changed his phone number 35 times; Çeker changed his 17 times and Yıldırım 16 times.

The testimony of a student staying at the same dormitory as some of the suspects suggested that they had talked to certain individuals about the plan to attack Zirve Publishing two days before the murders, a report yesterday from the Cihan news agency said.

The phone transcripts are currently being examined by the prosecutors on the case, Milliyet wrote.

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Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Aralık 2007, 13:56