A new indictment lists Hurşit Tolon, a former general who is a key suspect in the Ergenekon investigation, as the prime suspect. The prosecution asserts that the murders of three Christian publishers, including Tilman Geske, who ran Zirve Publishing House in 2007, were masterminded by Ergenekon.
The prosecutor in the latest indictment in the case says the three men’s deaths, as well as the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 and the murder of an Italian priest in 2006, were part of a coup plot named “Cage.” The Cage plan sought to undermine the government by creating unease and chaos and included planned assassinations of various non-Muslim figures important to their communities.
Suzanne Geske, the widow of one of the murder victims, said the victims’ families always knew that Emre Günaydın and the other suspects in the trial were being used by others. “This indictment shows who was really behind the murders. We don’t want other young people to be used anymore. All we want is justice. Be it Ergenekon or any other organization, no matter how long at takes, we want justice to be done and the cases solved.”
Lawyers for the victims’ families were pleased about the development. Erdal Doğan, a lawyer for the co-plaintiffs in the Zirve murder trial, said: “Hrant Dink was killed as part of the same plan as the Zirve victims. In the Dink murder trial, there was a strong attempt to limit the suspects to two hitmen. It is a positive development that at least in the Zirve trial the existence of those who masterminded the murders is recognized. This indictment also shows that this is not only about the Zirve murders, but the killings of Father Santoro and Hrant Dink are also part of the same plot.” He also said he hoped that the indictment will lead to the reopening of the trials into the assassinations of the two other men.
“We are really hoping that this new indictment is detailed and leaves no trace [of a cover-up]. What we hope is to reveal the truth. This latest development has given us a lot of hope,” said Ümit Şahin, the secretary-general of the Association of Protestant Churches.
However, İlkay Sezer, a lawyer for Tolon, noted that the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office had earlier stated that it could not find enough evidence to suggest that Tolon was one of the masterminds of the Zirve murders. “If there is any new evidence, he should be called to testify again,” he said.
The latest indictment into the 2007 Zirve Publishing House murders 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 more detailed work.
There are 19 suspects in the indictment, and prosecutors are seeking two life sentences without the possibility of parole for Tolon, who is currently under arrest as part of the case into Ergenekon.
On April 18, 2007, Christian missionaries Necati Aydın, Uğur Yüksel and German national Geske 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 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, Günaydın, jumped from a third-storey window in an attempt to escape from the police and was taken into custody after being treated for injuries.