IIRF: Secret Service Agent Is New Main Witness for the Prosecution of Murderers in Turkey

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Many Christians have had their telephone tapped for years.

International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF), Istanbul, Bonn – After six successive days this year, the lawsuit against the murderers of three Christians in Malataya, Turkey in 2007, entered a new phase, as IIRF observers of the trial and the national evangelical alliance in Turkey stated.

Representatives of the Army and University as, for instance, retired General Hursit Tolon and Ruhi Abat, Professor for Islamic Fundamental Theology at Inönü University, Malatya, are now being charged. The main witness to their involvement in the murders of three Christians in 2007 is police-agent Ilker Cinar who masqueraded as a Christian for years and took on the responsibility of running a Christian congregation in Tarsus. At the beginning of 2005, he created quite a stir on Turkish television by announcing live that he had returned to the Muslim faith. After this, he made public utterances against Christian missionaries which he also published in book form. Later it became to be known that Cinar had been paid by the secret service of the police for quite some time.

It was revealed later that Cinar, who at first acted under a pseudonym, was a witness in the Malatya trial. The new indictment states categorically that he accused military circles of being involved, in conjunction with ‘Ergenekon’ in a possible plot against the Turkish government which incorporated the Malatya murders. As evidence, he produced tape recordings of secret meetings between himself and the instigators of the murders. Cinar has not yet appeared before the court because of possible reprisals. Those accused by Cinar deny any involvement in the murder of Christians.

It is undisputed by all sides that in Malatya and other areas of Turkey numerous Christians are being shadowed because missionary activity is considered detrimental to the state. The telephones of many Christians from before and even after the Malatya murders are being monitored by the constabulary with court permission. For instance, according to the new 761 paged indictment of which the BQ has a full copy, Susanne Geske, widow of the murdered German citizen Tilman Geske has had her telephone tapped for six months after her husband’s murder. Also affected were the Pastor of the Protestant congregation in Diyarbakir, Ahmet Güvener, and the Istanbul Protestant pastor Behnan Konutgan. The latter, who is also President of the Turkish branch of the MBS, is still under personal police-protection because of murder threats.

The General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Turkey, Umut Sahin of Izmir, stated that after the new start of the court case, it has become evident that the sudden replacement of two public prosecutors and two assessors in the Malatya court case has made clearing up the facts behind the murders unhindered much more difficult. Only the Chairman Judge, Hayrettin Kise, who retains his office, is conversant with the extensive material and complicated facts of the case which have been discussed in the trial hitherto.

The trial will be continued in Malatya on 12 November 2012.

The International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF) is a network of professors, researchers, academics and specialists from all continents, who together monitor and assess the religious freedom situation worldwide. IIRF aims to ensure that comprehensive studies are carried out and made available without duplicating existing projects.