Retired Gen. Tolon prime suspect in new Malatya massacre indictment

Retired Gen. Tolon prime suspect in new Malatya massacre indictment

Retired Gen. Hurşit Tolon (Photo: Today's Zaman)

June 08, 2012, Friday/ 15:11:00/ EŞREF AKGÜN

An additional indictment prepared into the 2007 Zirve Publishing House murders, in which three people who sold Christian literature were brutally killed, points to retired Gen. Hurşit Tolon as the prime suspect in the case.

The indictment was submitted to the Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court on Friday. The court has 15 days to either accept the document or return it to prosecutors for a more detailed work. There are 19 suspects in the indictment, and prosecutors are seeking two life sentences without the possibility of parole for Tolon. Tolon, a former 1st Army Corps commander, is currently under arrest as part of the case into Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network that has alleged links within the state and is suspected of plotting to topple the government.

The indictment accuses the 19 suspects of “inciting murder,” “establishing a terrorist organization and becoming member of it” and “working to overthrow the government.” Among other suspects are retired Col. Mehmet Ülger, who served as Malatya Provincial Gendarmerie Brigade Commander in 2007, Maj. Haydar Y., noncommissioned officer Abdullah A., Sgt. Mehmet Ç. and Ruhi A., an instructor at İnönü University's department of theology.

On April 18, 2007, Christians Necati Aydın (35), Uğur Yüksel and German national Tilmann Ekkehart Geske (46) were tied to their chairs, stabbed and tortured at the Zirve Publishing House in the southeastern Anatolian city of Malatya before their throats were slit. The publishing house they worked for printed Bibles and Christian literature. Suspects Abuzer Yıldırım, Cuma Özdemir, Salih Gürler and Hamit Çeker were apprehended at the scene and immediately taken into custody, while another suspect, Emre Günaydın, jumped from a third-storey window in an attempt to escape from police and was taken into custody after being treated for injuries.

The indictment also states that the Zirve murders were carried out as part of the Cage Action Plan, a subversive plot allegedly devised by military officers that sought to undermine the government through assassinations and other acts of terror against non-Muslims in Turkey. The Cage plan was allegedly drawn up on the orders of Ergenekon. Cage plan documents specifically call the killings of Armenia-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, Catholic priest Father Andrea Santoro and the Zirve murders an “operation.”

An anti-democratic group within the Naval Forces Command behind the Cage plan had intended to foment chaos in society with those killings, but complained that the plan had failed when large segments of society protested the killings in mass demonstrations.

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