Turkey jails Syriac priest on terror charges

The priest was remanded in custody for allegedly “aiding and abetting the PKK”.

Turkish state forces on Thursday raided the Syriac populated rural neighborhoods of Eskihisar (Marînê), Üçköy (Xarabalê) and Üçyol (Sêderîyê) in Mardin’s Nusaybin district. 10 people were taken into custody in the operation, including the Church of Saint Jacob (Mor Yakup) priest Sefer (Aho) Beliçe.

Four of the detainees, priest Beliçe, Musa Taştekin, Haşo Dinç and Mehmet Başak were referred to Mardin Courthouse today after giving their statements to the Mardin Provincial Gendarmerie Command Anti-Terror Branch.

The detainees were then referred to a local court for allegedly “aiding and abetting the PKK”. The priest was remanded in custody while the other three detainees were released on condition of judicial control.

According to reports, statements of an informant against the priest, and written proceedings by the Gendarmerie claiming that “PKK members entered the monastery in 2018” were presented by the Prosecutor as evidence for the “crime” in question. Lawyers, however, were denied access to the documents presented as evidence.