Ergenekon indictment to be included in Malatya murders case

Lawyers representing the Malatya victims’ families arrive at the court house in Malatya on Monday.

August 22, 2008, Friday/ 20:00:00
The panel of judges hearing the murder trial of three missionaries killed at a Christian publishing house in the eastern province of Malatya last year has ruled to integrate the nearly 2,500-page indictment against Ergenekon, a gang accused of trying to topple the government by force, into the Malatya case.

The tenth trial of the case was heard yesterday at the Malatya 13th High Criminal Court. The panel of judges announced that the indictment of Ergenekon and all of its associated folders would be requested on DVD and incorporated into the documents of the Malatya case.

The decision marks an important step in the course of the trial, during which lawyers representing the victims' families have continuously insisted that the murder of the three Christians was not a simple hate crime, but something that goes much deeper. Recent evidence collected in the Ergenekon investigation also suggests that the brutal killings might have been organized by Ergenekon, which is suspected of a large number of murders and bombings aimed at creating chaos in the country to serve the organization's ultimate purpose of overthrowing the government.

Speaking to journalists outside the courthouse, Erkan Yücel, a lawyer representing the victims’ families, said they might consider in the near future requesting to merge the two trials.

    Also in yesterday’s trial, jailed suspects Emre Günaydın (19), Salih Gürler (20), Abuzer Yıldırım (19), Cuma Özdemir (20) and Hamit Çeker (19) -- who were captured by the police at the crime scene on the day of the murders -- delivered additional defense statements, something they had requested at the previous hearing on July 3. All five denied the charges directed at them.

After Günaydın finished his defense statement, presiding judge Eray Gürtekin asked him whether he knew retired Gen. Levent Ersöz, who is being sought as part of the Ergenekon investigation, given that Günaydın -- who spent time in the hospital after the brutal murders due to an injury he sustained as he tried to escape the scene -- had written down the general’s name on a piece of paper. Günaydın denied knowing Ersöz, saying he had no recollection of taking down a note with the said general’s name. The next trial was scheduled for Sept. 12, 2008.

The investigation into Ergenekon, a behind-the-scenes network attempting to use social and psychological engineering to shape the country in accordance with its own ultra-nationalist ideology, began in 2007, when a house in İstanbul’s Ümraniye district that was being used as an arms depot was discovered by police.

Over the course of the investigation, the case was expanded to reveal elements of what in Turkey is called the deep state, finally proving the existence of the Ergenekon network, which is currently being accused of trying to incite chaos in order to trigger a coup against the government. The indictment, made public last month, indicates that Ergenekon was behind a series of political assassinations over the past two decades. The group is also suspected of being behind the murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist killed by a teenager in 2007. Eighty-six suspects, 47 of whom are currently under arrest, are accused of having suspicious links to the gang.

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