Turkish prosecutor seeks life in bible killings case

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ISTANBUL, Oct 15 (Reuters) A Turkish prosecutor is seeking extended life sentences for five men suspected of slitting the throats of three workers at a Christian publishing house, private broadcaster NTV reported today.

The killings of the three men, including one German national, in April this year shocked Turkey and caused worry in the European Union, coming just months after Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink was shot dead and following the murder of an Italian Catholic priest last year.

The prosecutor sought three life sentences for each of the men accused of entering the Bible publishing house in the southeastern city of Malatya and binding their victims' hands and feet before slitting their throats, NTV said.

The prosecutor's office was not immediately available for comment.

Missionaries and converted Turks continue to be viewed with suspicion in predominantly Muslim Turkey, and the Christian community, numbering about 100,000, has often complained that the government does not do enough to counter mistrust.

The EU, which Turkey wants to join, has repeatedly urged Ankara to improve minority rights.

REUTERS RSA RN2150

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