Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Compass Direct News
At the opening day trial of three Christians tortured and killed here in April, attorneys for the bereft families accused prosecutors of “sloppy” investigations that focused on the religious activities of the victims rather than on the crime itself. The 20 lawyers, most of them working pro bono on behalf of the victims’ families and Turkish Protestant churches, spelled out detailed criticisms of the prosecutors’ “irresponsible” investigations at the hearing on Friday (November 23). The plaintiffs’ attorneys objected to the tone of the indictment and investigation, declaring that 16 of the 31 files focused on the religious activities of the Christian victims rather than on the murderers, who tied up, stabbed and slit the throats of Turkish converts Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske. According to one lawyer quoted by Milliyet newspaper on November 20, this “irrelevant” information looked like an indirect effort by the chief prosecutor “to reduce the charges by making the victims’ attempts to spread their religion look like ‘provocation.’”
According to an article on the Turkish Bianet (Independent News Net) website posted yesterday, the tone of the criminal investigation and biased reporting in the Turkish media marks “a dangerous shift of focus from the presumed perpetrators of a crime to conspiracy theories linking Christian missionaries and PKK [the separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party] activities.”

Bianet fingered the Ihlas News Agency as one major culprit trying to deflect blame from the killers by targeting some of the joint team of well-known Turkish attorneys for their defense of various Kurdish defendants accused of PKK links. Other lawyers were targeted for representing the family of murdered Armenian Christian journalist Hrant Dink or Necati Aydin, who had been falsely accused in 2000 of distributing Christian materials by force.

Two days after the Malatya hearing, the plaintiff lawyers announced they were filing an official complaint over repeated surveillance and interference with their e-mail and telephone communications in the days leading up to the opening of the trial on Friday (November 23).

“When we tried to open our e-mails, we had a message claiming, ‘Blocked by court order,’” attorney Cengiz told Milliyet newspaper on Sunday (November 25). “But if this had been a court order, we couldn’t have accessed them a day later.”
Turkey’s largest circulation newspaper, the daily Hurriyet, featured the wife and children of Necati Aydin in its front-page banner headline the day after the opening day hearing.

“Mommy, when will they kill us?” read the headline, flanked by a photograph of widow Semse Aydin with her 6-year-old daughter Esther in her arms during the murdered pastor’s funeral seven months ago.

“My children are missing their father, and I cannot comfort them,” the widow told the court. “They are asking me if they will also be killed because they are Christians.”

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