In April 2007, five young men tortured and killed two Turkish converts and a German Christian at a Christian publishing house in the southeastern city of Malatya. When the resulting trial began in January 2008, the court and the Turkish public regarded it as a straightforward case of overzealous nationalists killing missionaries, whose activity was widely regarded as a national threat.
But in recent months, lawyers have tied the case to a more serious national threat. Prosecutors have expanded their investigation beyond the five assailants to local officials. The murders are now seen as a plot by the “deep state” group Ergenekon, a cabal of generals, politicians, and other prominent figures accused of trying to overthrow the government. Ergenekon is already accused of plotting a national coup and killing several people, including a Catholic priest.