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Christian murder trial begins in Turkey

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Christian murder trial begins in Turkey

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The trial of five men accused of killing three Christians has begun in eastern Turkey. The suspects who are aged 19 and 20 arrived at the court in the town of Malatya amid tight security. Church representatives and German consulate officials were in court – the dead include a pastor and a German missionary. All were stabbed at the Christian publishing house where they worked in the town.

The trial is being seen as a test case of whether Turkey, which is bidding for EU membership, is prepared to root out signs of religious intolerance in the country.

The attack happened last April. The defendants, thought to be members of a nationalist organisation, reportedly told police they were acting to protect Islam.

Less than one percent of Turkey’s 71 million population is Christian.

At the time the deaths drew international condemnation and increased Western concerns about whether the predominantly Muslim, but secular country can protect its religious minorities.