Paris killings expose PKK’s structure in France, Turkish ambassador says

5 February 2013 /KÖKSAL AKPINAR, PARIS – Zaman – The killing of three Kurdish women linked to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Paris has exposed the structure of the PKK network in France, Turkish Ambassador to Paris Tahsin Burcuoğlu has said.

In an interview with Today’s Zaman, Burcuoğlu revealed all the details he knows related to the killings. “France had been a country which seemed free from terror activities until recently. However, the fact that a French prosecutor acknowledged that two of the women were PKK members and the other was a PKK sympathizer has exposed the structure of the PKK terror network in France,” Burcuoğlu said, adding that security measures have been tightened at the Turkish Embassy in Paris following the incident.

“Our request for more security measures near the embassy has been met by French authorities,” Burcuoğlu said.

Three Kurdish women, Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Söylemez, were killed in central Paris on Jan. 9, inside an office building that belongs to the PKK-affiliated Kurdish Information Institute. Cansız is known to have been among the few women who attended the founding congress of the PKK. A French prosecutor, François Molins, recently revealed that Ömer Güney, known to be the driver of one of the victims, was the prime suspect in the killings. The prosecutor further stated that Güney, a Turkish citizen, had been a member of the terrorist organization for two years and could face charges of leading and organizing assassinations on behalf of a terrorist organization.

Many, including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, claimed the killing of the women was likely an intra-PKK conflict as PKK is known for ruthless executions of its own members due to internal clashes.

“Molins also said they are focusing on an intra-PKK conflict as the motive behind the murder and think it was an effort to axe the peace talks in Turkey,” Burcuoğlu said, adding that he too believes the incident was an “internal reckoning.” “Now it lies to France to determine the exact motive behind the incident,” he remarked.

The deaths of the three women came at a time when state officials were engaged in talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, to broker a deal for the disarming of the terrorist group. Burcuoğlu said he was briefed by French Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls about the killings.

“One of the women was shot in the head, one in the eyes and the other in the mouth. Ömer Güney, who has been named the prime suspect, is 90 percent likely to be the murderer, according to the information we have been provided. French police found traces of gunpowder residue on him and footage from security cameras around the building and on the street placed Güney at the crime scene at the estimated time of the murders. A fourth glass of water in the room where the three women were shot had clued authorities in to the presence of a fourth individual in the room. The fingerprints on the glass belong to the suspect, an investigation later revealed,” Burcuoğlu told Today’s Zaman, adding that the crime scene did not yield any evidence indicating the women had resisted their attacker in any way, suggesting it was likely someone they knew and trusted.

Burcuoğlu also commented on a statement by French President François Hollande, who said he personally knew one of the victims. “The woman Hollande refers to was Fidan Doğan, described as a PKK sympathizer by the French prosecutor. Hollande met Doğan several times during his election campaigns,” Burcuoğlu said, adding that Doğan was attending meetings of political parties in Europe, including ones at the European Parliament. “The BDP [pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party] described Doğan as a prominent diplomat,” the ambassador further stated.