A Turkish court has freed five men accused of torturing and murdering three Christian missionaries in 2007, after the suspects’ time in detention while on trial exceeded new legal limits, local media said Saturday.
The men walked free from their high-security prison in the eastern city of Malatya on Friday, according to Dogan news agency.
German missionary Tilmann Geske and Turkish converts Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel had their throats slit in April 2007 after being tied up and interrogated about missionary activities.
The three victims were members of the tiny Protestant community in the conservative city.
The trial of the five men accused of the attack is still going on seven years later.
Under a new law passed by the Turkish parliament last month, the detention limit for suspects on trial who have not yet been convicted was lowered to five years, paving the way for the five accused to be released on bail.
The murders at the time fueled fear among Turkey’s tiny Christian minorities and raised concern over rising nationalism and hostility towards non-Muslims in Turkey, a mainly Muslim country seeking European Union membership.