The Malatya First Heavy Penal Court found Salih Gurler, Cuma Ozdemir, Abuzer Yildirim, Hamit Ceker, and Emre Gunaydin guilty on three counts each of premeditated murder, and sentenced them all to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Despite the conviction and sentencing, however, all five walked out of court free men while their case awaits higher legal review, infuriating Turkish Christians.
Gokhan Talas, close friend of the three slain Christians and witness at the murder scene, said he was “okay” with the decision, but was angry that the convicted men walked away free while the sentence is reviewed by higher courts.
“They need to be in jail right now,” Talas said. “This process is unjust. There’s no justice for Christians in this country. This is the proof of that. They are just hiding behind the laws. These people are killers.”
In a press release issued by the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, chairman and pastor Ihsan Ozbek echoed Talas’s dismay that the perpetrators were free despite being handed life sentences.
“Of course the legal process will continue as the case passes to the Regional Administrative Court, and then will go to the Supreme Court. This process can take years, and the killers of our brothers brutally murdered can move around freely for years to come,” Ozbek said. “The continuous postponement of the punishment they deserve severely wounds confidence in justice.”
On April 18, 2007, in the office of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya in southeastern …