17 December, 2016 Social Media carried reports that the alleged murderer of the three Kurdish activists assassinated in the Kurdish information office near the Gare du Nord train station in Paris had died in a Paris hospital: “Omer Guney, MIT agent, who killed 3 women in Paris is dead. Such a shame he didn’t face justice and punishment”
Ömer Güney, the only suspect in the assassination of Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez in Paris on 9 January, 2013, died on December 17, 2016. He was scheduled to go on trial on 23 January, 2017 for the murders of the three activists. Güney denied the charges despite incriminating evidence, which included video surveillance of him entering the Kurdistan Information Centre building shortly before the crimes. DNA of one of the victims was found on Güney’s parka and his bag contained traces of gunpowder.
After a lengthy investigation by police Güney had been charged with “committing murder in an individual or collective conspiracy to heavily disrupt the public order through terror or intimidation”.
The murders of the 3 Kurdish activists took place on January 9, 2013 and despite promise of swift action French authorities appear to have dragged their heels in an investigation that spanned a number of years and which ultimately raised serious questions as to the identity of those involved in the vicious murder of the three women.
A year later, on January 12, 2014 “an audio recording posted on the Internet revealed a conversation between Güney and two purported MIT operatives. The exchanges suggest the three men were planning the killings. The purported MIT (Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization ) pair discussed with Güney some sort of checklist, advising him to wear gloves during the attack and being careful of security cameras around the building and suggesting escape routes. The person who leaked the recording claimed in a note to be a confidant of Güney’s whom Güney had asked ‘to release this document in case something happens to him.'”
Der Spiegel reported at the time: “…the recording — a purported conversation between Ömer Güney, the man accused of murdering the three female activists, and what are alleged to be two members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT). The recording was posted on the Internet on Jan. 12, ostensibly by a friend of Güney, who has since been charged by French prosecutors in the killing. Güney, who lived in Bavaria in Southern Germany from 2003 to 2011, had left the recording with the friend in case something happened to him.”
Turkey refuted the claims and said that a secret voice recording between Güney and a MİT official was fabricated, citing that it was not Güney speaking to the alleged MİT official on the phone
Shortly afterwards “an alleged MIT internal memo hit the Internet. The document, titled “Sakine Cansiz” and dated Nov. 18, 2012, suggests that MIT engaged a person code-named “Legionnaire” for an “attack/sabotage/assassination” against PKK targets in France and paid him ($8,000) for expenses.”
Al-Monitor at the time quoted HDP MP Selahattin Demirtas: “The ensuing reactions of Kurdish parliament members indicate that they too remain unconvinced by MIT. Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), said in remarks published Jan. 17, ‘MIT’s statement has failed to satisfy us. We were able to confirm that the audio recording is authentic. People who know the person in question well confirm that the voice belongs to him. And when it comes to the leaked paper, there are serious suspicions that it is a [genuine] MIT document. No one has said it is a fabrication. We will be closely following the issue.’”
After the deaths an MIT statement released January 15 maintained that the attempt to implicate it in the Paris assassinations aimed to discredit the agency, which has played an active role in the settlement process. The statement went on to say that while “our agency has nothing whatsoever to do with the murders, an internal administrative investigation has been launched over the allegations.”
Reports quoted Paris Public Prosecutor Jeanne Duyé as having ruled out the possibility of an internal PKK dispute as being the motive behind the murders. “The inquiry reveals that the murders were not committed due to any ill will or sexual intention and could not be the result of a settling of accounts inside the PKK. Instead, established links have been found between Ömer Güney and the Turkish intelligence services and more particularly MİT … even though inquiries could not reveal if agents from MİT had taken an official duty to commit the murders or they committed the murders without MİT’s knowledge to discredit it or sabotage the peace process…” she said in the indictment.
In a report on Güney’s death Kurdish news agency ANF News quoted Murat Şahin, a former member of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) now living in Switzerland, as having stated that: “Ömer Güney, the man under arrest since 19 January, 2013 in connection with the killings in Paris of Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez, was a member of the MIT.”
“Turkish officials refused to cooperate with investigators and did not share the information MİT had on the massacre. The French government only publicized a few documents that had already been known by the public, and has been hiding the information it has on Ömer Güney. Investigators note that Güney was an MİT agent who infiltrated into the Kurdish movement for espionage and assassinations. French prosecutor Jeanne Duyé decided to close the case in May, 2015, two years after the massacre.”
Maxime Azadi in a recent article for the Yeni Özgür Politika daily and Kurdish Question raises a number of serious questions now that so much time has passed since the murders and especially now that the only suspect identified has also been eliminated from the investigation as well as the search for justice:
Can Güney’s sudden death be seen as of natural causes?
Could his condition have been manipulated so he would die as fast as possible?
Was the long delay of the trial aimed at waiting for Güney to die?
Although the role of the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) was stated clearly in the prosecutor’s indictment and the investigating judge’s file, how could this important case come to an end?
Even though the hitman is dead, why aren’t those who gave the order found and put on trial?
The investigation itself pointed to Ankara for the massacre. Who is benefiting from this suspicious, even seemingly programmed death?
Who is protecting the people who gave the order, and why?
The death of the suspect may stop a case, but how can it stop the questioning, the doubting, the asking and the search for justice?
“The Paris case served as a test for the governments of European states, which the Turkish state has been using as an operational zone since the 1980’s, France being one of the primary places. Western countries’ criminalisation policies against the Kurds and their self-interest-oriented relations with the Turkish state makes them severely responsible with regard to the crimes committed by the Turkish state in Turkey and Kurdistan, and also in Europe. The French and European governments have not managed to shed light on one single political murder so far, and preferred complicity in this last case.
What kind of a future can a country that fails this test of justice ever promise to its own citizens? How much longer can this complicity last? Questions will continue to pile up as injustice continues, and the pursuit of justice will grow stronger. ”
Der Spiegel also asks the question: “Is it possible that a country that wants to become a member of the EU allowed a contract killing to be conducted on EU territory?”
Responding to the news of his death, lawyers for the families of the victims issued a statement expressing the “anger of the families of the victims, deprived of a public trial for which they had waited for nearly four years; families, who had placed their hopes in the French justice system…” Hurriyet Daily News reported. “The families of the victims expressed their “consternation to see that, once again, France is still not able to judge a political crime committed on French territory by foreign secret services,” according to the statement signed by lawyers Sylvie Boitel, Antoine Comte, Virginia Dusen, Jan Fermon and Jean-Louis Malterre.”
Whether President Erdoğan and his allies consider European membership any longer an option (or a possibility) following their ongoing and persistent undermining of democratic procedures in Turkey, it is high time now during this period of commemoration for the many lives lost in Turkey’s war against a people seeking their identify, justice and freedom, that questions be asked and that we insist that those with answers be encouraged to clarify the details in another act of barbarism against our dreams and our work towards a humanity committed to peace and development internationally.
Despite the death of the assassin Ömer Güney it is imperative that the French and European authorities, with or without the co-operation of Turkey, get to the bottom of these murders and bring justice to the families of the three Kurdish activists.
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