ANKARA, Turkey – A court jailed five suspects Sunday on murder charges linked to the killings of three Christians who were tied up and had their throats slit at a publishing house which had drawn protests by nationalists for distributing Bibles.
Six others were released pending trial, the court said. It was unclear what charges the six faced and a trial date has not yet been set. A 12th suspect, who tried to escape from police by jumping from a fourth-floor balcony at the scene of the killings, remains hospitalized in stable condition and was expected to be charged later.
The three victims — a German man and two Turks who converted to Christianity — were killed Wednesday at a Christian publishing house in Malatya.
The attack added to concerns in Europe about whether the predominantly Muslim country — which is bidding for European Union membership — can protect its religious minorities.
Christians make up just a fraction of 1 percent of Turkey's population of 71 million.
Christian leaders said they are worried that nationalists were stoking hostilities against non-Turks and non-Muslims by exploiting growing uncertainty over Turkey's place in the world.
The uncertainty — and growing suspicion against foreigners — has been driven by the faltering EU bid, a resilient Kurdish separatist movement and by increasingly vocal Islamists who see themselves — and Turkey — as locked in battle with a hostile Christian West