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General News

Turkey: CSW Calls for Investigation after Details of Assassination Attempts Emerge

September 16, 2022

SURREY, UK – Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling on the Turkish authorities to expedite a full investigation into allegations of a conspiracy between security officials and an ultranationalist to assassinate Christian leaders in Malatya, Turkey in 2015-2016.

Details of the assassination attempts only emerged on August 25, 2022, when the would-be killer, known as Tolgahan A., visited the Protestant church in Malatya and confessed to one of the church’s leaders, Vedat Serin, that he had been offered “whatever he wanted” by members of Turkey’s Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit (JITEM) in return for killing Vedat Serin himself, former pastor Tim Stone and Pastor Ihsan Özbek, chairman of Kurtuluş Churches Association.

Tolgahan A. claimed he had been given the addresses and photos of the three men, and had planned to carry out the assassinations on two separate occasions. The first attempt was called off when Tolgahan A. and an accomplice realized that Pastor Stone’s young son was on the church premises and decided that it would be wrong to kill his father in front of him, and the second was called off following the murder of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov in the Turkish capital, Ankara, in December 2016.

According to Middle East Concern, human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz has submitted a criminal complaint to the public prosecutor in Malatya, and Vedat Serin has been granted police protection.

Tolgahan A.’s claims are a worrying reminder of the 2007 torture murders of three Christians at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya by five young men, who were apprehended at the scene of the crime. All five eventually received three aggravated life sentences each for premeditated murder in 2016.

CSW’s CEO Scot Bower said: “Whilst we are relieved that plans to assassinate these church leaders ultimately ended in failure, the allegation that they were orchestrated by elements within Turkey’s security apparatus is deeply concerning. Even though several years have passed since these assassination attempts, it is essential that the Turkish government acts on the disturbing information which has come to light and conducts a full and swift investigation into these claims, with particular attention paid to identifying and holding to account any members of JITEM who are identified as having been involved.”

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