Faith

Turkey: 5 Men Sentenced to Life in Prison For Killing Innocent Christians, But Are Immediately Released

The coffin of Tilmann Geske is carried out from a hospital in Malatya, Turkey, Friday, April 20, 2007. Singing hymns in Turkish, mourners buried the German victim of the attack at a Christian publishing house (AP Photo/Serkan Senturk)

Last Wednesday, a Turkish court sentenced five men to life in prison for brutally murdering three Christians in 2007. However, despite their lifelong sentences, the men were immediately released after the sentencing.

It’s truly horrible to read what happened on that dark day in 2007:

Tilmann Geske, a 45-year-old German missionary, Uğur Yüksel, 32, and Necati Aydın, 36 – the latter both Turks who had converted from Islam to Christianity – were bound together, tortured and then had their throats slit in the office of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, southeastern Turkey, on Easter Sunday in 2007.

Immediately after the horrific crime, those responsible for it were arrested. In the 115th hearing of the case, Emre Günaydın, Cuma Özdemir, Hamit Çeker, Salih Gürler and Abuzer Yıldırım were all found guilty and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences each.

The murderers were absolutely not remorseful. In fact, Günaydin even said in court that he was proud of the murders. “I am thankful that I did not shame my country or cause any embarrassment,” he declared.

Although Günaydin and his fellow murderers were sentenced to life in prison, they were all released immediately after the trial. The reason: they had already served five years, which is the legal limit for detention pending trial in Turkey. Because they appealed their case, they are once again allowed to roam Turkey’s streets as free men.

That’s all the more remarkable because Turkish president Erdogan has declared a state of emergency which, among other things, means human rights treaties are considered null and void for the time being. The government has been locking up critics on an epic scale — many thousands of individuals have been arrested. Even their next of kin don’t know what has happened to them, and most if not all of them have not been allowed to consult lawyers.

Apparently, the increasingly authoritarian and Islamist Erdogan is far less hostile towards murderers of Christians than he is towards suspected “Gülenists.” If you didn’t know any better, you’d almost think his own conservative Islamic nationalist views may have something to do with that. But nah, I’m sure that’s just crazy talk? Amirite?