Five years on, the Malatya massacre case, in which three missionaries were killed by five ultranationalist youngsters, has taken on unprecedented dimensions.
Now, one former general, one colonel and other officers from the Malatya gendarmerie are on trial in connection with this murder.
The hearing started this Monday, and I am writing this piece in the courtroom on Tuesday morning as we wait for the accused to arrive. Then the second day of the hearing will start.
As I tried to express to the press yesterday, we have started the case at a huge disadvantage. As soon as we arrived in Malatya, we learnt that the prosecutor who prepared the second indictment had been assigned to another task and would not be working on this case any more. Furthermore, two of the three judges on the panel of the court have been appointed to other courts. These judges have been working on this case for the last five years, and now we have two new judges on the panel, who probably know nothing about the case.
The prosecutor’s situation is much more worrying. Imagine a situation like this: A prosecutor has worked on a file for the past year and a half, has examined all the evidence himself, has talked to witnesses and has questioned the accused in person. Then he has lost charge of the indictment he himself prepared. The indictment is more than 700 pages long, and the annexed documents are almost 40,000 pages. This indictment and its attachments are now presented to the court by someone else. It is really hard to believe.
The Ministry of Justice may try to justify this scandal by making reference to the change of the structure of the specially authorized courts, one of which was handling this case in Malatya. However, in a democratic country, which is ruled by the supremacy of law, these kind of irresponsible and arbitrary changes in court structures should be unimaginable. If you are changing the structure of a court, you have to employ some reserve judges and prosecutors to follow all procedures and actions; then you can replace them with the judges you appoint to other courts. But in this trial, unfortunately, this has not been the case. I really hope that the Ministry of Justice will, at least, appoint the prosecutor to his task once again, in order to allow him to follow through the indictment he prepared.
Now the summary of the indictment is being read to the court. It is estimated that this will take at least a couple of full days. After that, the accused will testify before the court.
As I have tried to explain in this column before, with this second indictment I am for the first time hopeful that we can establish a complete picture of how this barbaric murder was planned and who was behind it. Having said this, I do not agree with everything in the indictment, or the way in which it has been prepared. For example, there is nothing about the role of the police in this indictment; it does not inquire as to what the police were doing while these murders were being planned. The murderers had long been planning this murder, and it is obvious that police intelligence turned a blind eye to these preparations.
Aside from this and other flaws in the indictment, and, unfortunately, the replacement of the prosecutor, I am hopeful about this case. This second indictment clearly shows how the Malatya gendarmerie was involved in these murders. It shows that there was a central unit in the General Staff waging a war against Christians. And for the first time the Special Warfare Department has been mentioned in an indictment. The Special Warfare Department has been implicated in many atrocities in the past, including pogroms against non-Muslims on Sept. 6-7, 1955, but has never been investigated.
In short, we feel that we are at the entrance to a long tunnel which could lead us to the heart of the deep state and its bloody war against Christians. There is a very long way to go.