By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
ISTANBUL, TURKEY (BosNewsLife)– Christians in Turkey say they need prayers as a court is reviewing sentences handed down last year over the killing of three Christian missionaries in eastern Turkey in April 2007.
German missionary Tilmann Geske and Turkish converts Necati Aydin and Uğur Yüksel were repeatedly stabbed and had their throats cut when they were attacked at a Christian ‘Zirve Publishing House’ in Malatya.
Last week a court in the western city of Gaziantep upheld life sentences given in September 2016 to five perpetrators linked to the murders but it also expressed doubts over other verdicts in the case, trial observers said.
The court reportedly claimed that prison sentences for retired Chief of Staff Colonel Mehmet Ulger and Major Haydar Yesil were based “on legal inconsistencies” and need re-examination.
Christians said the two officers were apparently involved in the planning and preparation of the murders along with others set free for an alleged lack of evidence.
In comments distributed by advocacy group Middle East Concern, Christians in Turkey said they called for prayers that “the motivation and the masterminds behind these murders will be revealed” and “the review process will proceed smoothly, and just verdicts will be upheld”.
They also pray that “relatives and friends of the victims will know God’s peace as the justice process continues.”
The 2007 attack came months after the killing of the ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and a year after the murder of a Catholic priest in northern Turkey.
In all cases, the alleged killers were believed to have been nationalist-minded young men or even teenagers.
Turkish nationalists often view Christian missionaries as a threat to Islam, especially in remote places like Malatya.
Violence and other tensions have impacted the number of Christians staying in Turkey. There are only around 100,000 Christians left in Turkey – less than 1 percent of the population, according to several estimates.