Paris murder suspect faces trial as Kurdish tensions resurface

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 13, 2015 1:38 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - A Turkish man suspected of murdering three Kurdish activists in Paris in 2013 is to face trial, putting the spotlight on a key rallying point for ethnic Kurds amid renewed violence in Turkey's Kurdish southeast.

According to a French judicial source, the charge against the main suspect in the case, 33-year-old Omer Guney, will be "assassination in connection with a terrorist organization", as requested by an investigating magistrate in July.

Judicial sources have said he is thought to have acted under instructions from people in Turkey, and that those people may have had connections to the Turkish intelligence services.

Turkish officials have denied such allegations, suggesting instead that the murders were related to internal disputes in the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The murders in January 2013 of founding PKK member Sakine Cansiz, 55, Fidan Dogan, 32, a spokeswoman for the cause in France and Europe, and a trainee named Leyla Saylemez, 25, sent a shockwave through Europe's Kurdish community.

The women were shot as ceasefire talks to end 29 years of war between the PKK and Turkey were starting. That three year-old peace process now teeters on the edge of collapse.

Turkish war planes have been bombing PKK camps in northern Iraq and Kurdish militants have stepped up their attacks on Turkish soldiers and police, leaving that ceasefire in ruins.

Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who had been the main negotiator in the talks launched in 2012 by President Tayyip Erdogan to try to end the Kurdish insurgency, has been refused visits from his supporters since June.

Government officials accuse him of failing to fulfil pledges he made during the peace process.

(This story has been refiled to correct last paragraph on visits to PKK leader Ocalan)

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier, Andrew Callus and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Tom Heneghan)