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Twelve suspects to face trial in murder of publishing house employees

(BIANET/IFEX) - Twelve suspects, five of whom are in detention, face trial for the 18 April 2007 murder of three employees of a publishing house.

Prosecutors are demanding life sentences for the defendants Emre Günaydin, Abuzer Yildirim, Hamit Ceker, Cuma Özdemir and Salih Güler for founding an armed group, for being members of this group and for killing people in an organised manner. The other seven defendants are accused of aiding and abetting the armed group.

German citizen Tilman Ekkehart Geske and two Turkish citizens, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yüksel, were murdered in the offices of Zirve publishing house, in Malatya, southeastern Turkey, on 18 April. Zirve prints bibles and Christian literature, and previously had been the target of threats and a demonstration by nationalists accusing it of proselytising. The notion of "missionary activity" has often been used in Turkey to excuse discrimination, violence and even murder. Hate discourses often employ the term.

There has been criticism that security forces did not try hard enough to prevent the murders. Malatya Governor Halil Ibrahim Dasöz replied to these criticisms by saying, "There was no request made for protection."

As the International Publishers' Association (IPA) said at the time of the killings, "The murder of the employees of the Zirve publishing house is not only a tragedy in itself. It is also an attack on freedom to publish."

The suspects' trial will begin in the third week of October at the Penal Court in Malatya.

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