Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Turkey's justice moves forward...slowly

Plaintiff lawyers Erdal Dogan (left)
 and Orhan Kemal Cengiz on the
steps of the Malatya courthouse.
 (Photo by Compass Direct News)
Turkey (MNN) ― Compass Direct News says the suspects arrested in Turkey's 2007 Zirve Publishing House murder case were before the court last week telling their story once more.  

The original case stems from the brutal murders of three people (Necati Aydin and Ugur Yüksel and Christian German national Tilmann Geske) who sold Christian literature in a publishing house in the eastern province of Malatya.   

IN Network USA president Rody Rodeheaver explains, "There were several young men who were caught red-handed in this situation. But there has always been the feeling that the people who wielded the knives were not the people who really were behind this."

The arrested are accused of having masterminded and instigated the April murders as part of Ergenekon's plan to lay the groundwork for a military takeover. Rodeheaver says that led to more investigation which uncovered the dark underbelly of Turkey. "They felt that it was a shadowy group called 'Ergenekon' which is a terrorist group at the highest levels of the Turkish military; their goal is to undermine the Turkish government and to keep them out of the European union."

The reason the  judges of the Third Criminal Court of Malatya wanted to hear the testimony was so they could prepare another part of the case that links the suspects to the masterminds. So far, that's been a tough call. Rodeheaver says, "There is a concern on the part of the Christian church that an indictment will not really go deep enough because the lead prosecutor and the head judge were taken off the case, and there's always been a fear that this was the starting of a cover-up."

An indictment of the masterminds behind the murders is expected on April 9 if it process true justice. The trial hearings for the murders of the three Christians continued slowly last year amid advances in investigations and the replacement of key personnel--a move some think was intended to slow justice even more.

Compass Direct says while there were 20 suspects arrested in connection to last year's investigation connecting Ergenekon and Malatya, only seven of them are still in custody--five of whom are in the military. Their report goes on to say evidence garnered from a CD which surfaced was enough to connect the country's agenda, the Malatya murders, and fees for the slayings.

IN Network doesn't have a direct link to the case, but what effects one part of the body affects them all, says Rodeheaver. "If I had any message for the Christian community around the world, it would be to pray that this case would actually do what it was really intended to do -- and that would be to find those who were guilty of these crimes."

IN Network faces both the scrutiny of terrorist groups and the threat of violence. These can be very distracting, Rodeheaver admits. "There have been some spikes in some places trying to intimidate Christians: threats, assassination plots, things like that. But this is a pretty normal lifestyle for the Christians who live in this kind of environment."

Last December, an Al Qaeda plot targeting churches came to light. At the same time, Ergenekon threatened to assassinate IN Network's country director.

While the incidents are unnerving, they won't stop the outreach. Church Planting and Evangelism are carried out by a small church that was planted in Istanbul, through personal visits, discipling church members, and building them up in their faith.

The I.N. Network in Turkey also works with Internet Evangelism -- a "door-opening" forum to chat with those who do not know Christ. A new constitution is in the works, so there is some hope for believers, especially with the advocacy that's come into play with the Greek Prelate.

Turkey is poised for change, notes Rodeheaver. "Anything that changes in Turkey will change because the people of God are praying. Turkey is a very pivotal place in terms of assisting the Christian church to be the church all over the world."

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