Three missionaries, including one of German descent, were brutally murdered in Malatya on April 18, 2007. The three were found with their throats slit, having also been bound. The prosecution claims that Ergenekon, which the prosecution has classified as a terrorist group, painstakingly plotted to murder the three men, keeping the detailed plot secret at every step.
The addendum indictment, written to complement the main indictment, was accepted by the Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court last week. The 761-page document claims that Ergenekon used the National Strategies and Operations Department of Turkey (TUSHAD) -- an undercover military unit -- and a man named İlker Çınar to study the conditions in Malatya prior to the murders. The indictment states that TUSHAD and Çınar relied on right-wing academics and media to start an anti-minority campaign, and that the murders were committed after Ergenekon was able to lay the groundwork through anti-Christian propaganda. The indictment also states that the murder of a Catholic priest in Trabzon in 2006 and the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink on Jan. 19, 2007, were part of the same plot.
Prosecutors claim that the names of the three people murdered in the Zirve massacre were mentioned on Oct. 1, 2005, at a symposium held in Malatya. They also claim that Col. Mehmet Ülger, who was appointed to head the Malatya Gendarmerie Command in January 2006, had previously spoken of missionaries as a threat to national security at meetings with the Malatya Police Department. The prosecution alleges that prior to Ülger's appointment, the issue of Christian missionaries had not come up in any of the security meetings.
The indictment further states that Ülger visited bookstores in Malatya, warning them against distributing copies of the Bible.
According to the indictment, at a workshop against missionary activities in January 2007, the action plan to kill the three men was announced to local proxies and assignments were distributed. Prosecutors say Çınar, formerly a priest himself, was assigned the task of contributing to academic reports designed to generate controversy about missionaries. Ruhi Abat, a research assistant at İnönü University, was given a similar task. Gendarmerie Intelligence Unit Director Haydar Yeşil was tasked with coordinating the work of anti-missionary plotters, and gendarmerie NCO Murat Göktürk was ordered to gather intelligence. All those involved were given code names to maintain secrecy.
The prosecution claims that when Çınar asked about the planned action in Malatya he was told that the attack was being staged only to intimidate missionaries and that no one would be killed. Further, the murders were incited by the Ergenekon terrorist organization, the Malatya cell of which was formed under orders from Hurşit Tolon, a former general and a key suspect in the main Ergenekon trial in İstanbul.
The additional indictment includes a detailed chronology of the suspects' actions prior to the attack and adds new evidence to the existing charges of attempting to obscure evidence after the murders.