Suspect in killings of 3 Kurdish activists dies in Paris

AP News
Posted: Dec 18, 2016 11:50 AM

PARIS (AP) — The man suspected of killing three Kurdish activists in Paris in 2013 has died from brain disease, Paris prosecutors said Sunday.

Omer Guney's trial was scheduled next month. His death on Saturday in a Paris hospital ends legal action in the case.

Guney, 34, was charged with murder in the killings of Sakine Cansiz, who helped found the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a rebel group seeking autonomy for Turkey's Kurds; and Leyla Soylemez and Fidan Dogan, both Kurdish activists.

The killings occurred in the Kurdish Information Center in the 10th district of Paris in January 2013. French authorities haven't disclosed a motive for the killings.

At the time, Guney worked as a driver of Cansiz for two years and Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said video cameras showed he was inside the building when the killings occurred.

Molins said 10 shots were fired — four into the head of one of the victims and three into the heads of the other two. The investigators said they found a bag in Guney's car that had traces of gunpowder on it.

The conflict in Turkey between the PKK and government forces has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.

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At the time of the killings, Turkey was engaged in talks with the rebels' jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to persuade his group to disarm. Violence between Turkish security forces and the PKK flared up again in 2015 following the collapse of the fragile peace process.

In a joint statement, Cansiz's brother and the two other victims' fathers said "we, the victims' families, will continue our fight for truth and justice. These killings aren't the act of one single person. Those who commissioned them must also be identified and judged."