PARIS (AP) — French prosecutors have filed preliminary murder and terrorism charges against a Turkish citizen who worked as a driver for one of three Kurdish activists who were gunned down this month in Paris, an official said Monday.
The suspect, identified as Omer Guney, 30, drove for the most prominent victim, Sakine Cansiz, a woman in her 50s who helped found the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a rebel group seeking autonomy for Turkey's Kurds. Guney has told investigators he has been a member of the PKK for two years, Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.
There is "serious and corroborating evidence" to show that Guney had a role in the Jan. 9 killings, Molins said.
The preliminary charges of murder in connection with a terrorist operation and conspiracy in connection with a terrorist operation were filed against Guney, who is being detained, Molins said. This opens the way to a fuller investigation which would lead to formal charges, if sufficient evidence is found. If there is not enough evidence to support suspicions, the preliminary charges will be dropped.
Guney maintains his innocence.
The conflict in Turkey between the PKK and government forces has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984. Recently, Turkish officials have been holding talks with the PKK in an effort to persuade it to disarm. And Turkey's government has said those opposed to such talks may have been involved in the Paris killings.
Molins said video cameras show that Guney was inside the Kurdish Information Center in the 10th district of Paris on Jan. 9 at the time investigators believe the killings occurred there: between 12:43 p.m. and 1:21 p.m. The prosecutor said 10 shots were fired — four into the head of one of the victims and three into the heads of the other two.