by Worthy News Staff
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (Worthy News) -- Two new suspects were behind bars Friday, February 13, for their alleged involvement in torture-murders of three Christian missionaries in the city of Malatya, in 2007.
Huseyin Yelki, 34, a Turk who has worked for Christian organizations, was detained Monday, February 9, just days after former journalist Varol Bulent Aral, 32, was taken into police custody on February 4, court officials said.
Both men join some seven people already on trial for the murders of two Turkish Christians, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and fellow German believer Tilmann Geske, on April 18, 2007 in office of Christian publishing house Zirve Publishing in the eastern town of Malatya.
In April 2007, five of the men on trial went to the offices of a Christian publishing house on the pretext of discussing Christianity, prosecutors said. The five then allegedly tied up Aydin, Yuksel and Geske, tortured them for a number of hours, and then slit their throats.
The five were all arrested at the scene of the crime and face life imprisonment if found guilty. The other two men currently on trial have been charged with aiding the murderers and could face shorter terms. It was not immediately clear what prison terms the latest men who were detained could face.
However prosecutors have already said they believe that Aral was “the mastermind” behind the 2007 murders. He was into custody last week and was later charged at a court in Malatya with "leading a terrorist organization” which prosecutors said wanted “to forcefully impose their ideological convictions on others" and "organizing the murder of more than one person."
Yelki allegedly worked as a volunteer in the Christian publishing house to gather information on workers and help prepare the attack. The three victims were members of the tiny Protestant community in Malatya.
The Turkish government has come under mounting international pressure to improve the rights of the country's Christian minority after several other attacks against Christians, including church leaders, at a time when the country is seeking membership of the European Union.