Women stand in front of banner of Cansiz, Dogan and Saylemez
It has been almost four years since the three revolutionary Kurdish women were murdered in Paris. The trial for the massacre was expected to start on 23 January but the suspect Ömer Güney died suddenly.
According to sources close to the case, the trial was to start on 23 January in Paris and would continue until 24 February. PKK founding member Sakine Cansız, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) Paris Representative Fidan Doğan and Kurdish Youth Movement member Leyla Şaylemez were murdered on 9 January 2013 in the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris with three bullets to their heads. The suspect Ömer Güney was arrested in the same month and placed in Fresnes Prison in Paris.
Judge Jeanne Duyé charged the suspect with “committing murder in an individual or collective conspiracy to heavily disrupt the public order through terror or intimidation”. In a follow up indictment dated 28 April 2014 charges for planning to escape prison with intention to procure arms and explosives was added to the demanded sentence as an additional 10 year sentence.
The case has effectively been halted
But, as the trial was expected to start after four years, the suspect’s corpse came out of the prison. According to judiciary sources he died in a hospital in Paris on 17 December 2016. The same sources claimed Güney had suffered a serious brain condition. There were no indications that his health was deteriorating up to that day. With his death, the trial has effectively come to a halt. As the families were waiting for justice for four years, France once again failed to display the will to put on trial the political murders committed by foreign intelligence agencies on its own soil.
Was his health condition manipulated?
This sudden death has led to many questions. 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?
Why aren't those who gave the order put on trial?
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?
Anatomy of a massacre: MIT's plans for assassination
Let’s go back to the beginning. How and under what conditions did these murders take place? There is a wide array of data on both the murderer’s profile and the revolutionaries he targeted and his possible purpose. It has also been determined in the case file that the suspect has ties to the Turkish Intelligence Service and received orders for the murders.
He went to France from Germany
Ömer Güney, born in 1982 in Şarkışla, Sivas, has residency in France. Güney got married in 2003 in Germany and stayed married for 7 years. There are no indications that he or his family had any sympathy for Kurds. The murder suspect is from a Turkish nationalist background, but around the end of 2011, he suddenly moved to France and joined the Kurdish association in Villiers-le-Bel.
He made a place for himself in the association
At the time, the association was in need of a French speaker with a driver’s license. Güney took advantage of this, and tried to make a place for himself in the association with the quiet, calm and helpful profile he had created. Later he started making encrypted phone calls with the Turkish Intelligence Service with different cell phones he used.
Detained in the Netherlands
This suspicious situation first emerged in December 2012 in a village in the Netherlands’ Zeland region during meetings organised by the Kurdish youth movement that lasted a couple of days. The Dutch police raided the meeting grounds on 3 December and detained some 50 participants. Güney was at this meeting as a driver taking young people from Paris to the village. There were two important names from the Kurdish movement at the meeting. The Dutch police confiscated all telephones. Güney hadn’t turned his phone in by the beginning of the meeting but had kept it on himself.
Turkish SIM card on his phone
The Dutch police found a Turkish SIM card in the phone. Later, this SIM card and the numbers within were used as evidence in the case in Paris. It was detected that the phone was active during the meetings and made calls to Turkey.
MIT's orders marked 'secret'
Another document that surfaced in 2014 was signed by high ranking people in the Turkish Intelligence: Branch Director O. Yüret, Department Head U. K. Ayık, Deputy Chairperson S. Asal and Chair H. Özcan. The order marked “secret” and dated 18 November 2012 was very clear:
"The Resource [Güney] has the capability to be aware of Sakine Cansız’s (Code name: Sara) activity throughout Europe in the coming period, her communication channels, her correspondence and residence addresses, and he may be utilised for an operation geared towards neutralising [killing] the aforementioned member of the organisation [PKK].
In this context, also considering the safety of the Resource and the activity, there are plans to issue orders for the Legionnaire [Güney] to attempt an action against Sakine Cansız (Code name: Sara) with predetermined coded phrases. We request authorisation for the plans."
Prison escape plan
By the time these documents were published, Ömer Güney, called “Kaynak” (“Resource) within the MIT, was planning his escape from the Paris prison. During his meeting with his “friend” visiting from Germany, Ruhi Semen, the investigators were secretly recording the conversation. Güney asked Ruhi Semen to go to MIT without actually naming it. The address he pointed at was pointing at the MIT headquarters in Ankara. The talks were in code.
The road to MIT
Ömer Güney was talking of “safekeeping” when he wanted the MIT to meet with “The Gentleman”. He said he would bring the “safekept” object himself personally when he was out of prison. When he talked about the MIT, he said “Mother”. The investigators took Ruhi Semen’s statement in Germany on 27 January 2014. He defended himself and said his only purpose was to visit, but he was asked certain things. Semen accepted that they spoke in code and confessed that “Mother” meant MIT and “Gentleman” meant a MIT agent. This is present in the case file.
He died in the hospital he couldn't escape from
In searches conducted in Ruhi Semen’s home in Germany, three photographs taken by a phone and some handwritten documents were seized. These documents included an “escape plan”. Güney was planning to escape the Salpetriere Hospital he was to be staying in for an operation, using a gun. This is the same hospital that Güney eventually stayed at and died in.
Footage contradicts Güney
In line with the instructions, Ömer Güney accompanied Sakine Cansız to a post office in the morning hours of 9 January 2013 and they returned to the Kurdistan Information Center later. Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez were also in the office. Cansız and Şaylemez were supposed to travel to Germany with a car at around 13:30. After murdering the women in the office, Ömer Güney thought he had left no evidence behind. In his first statement to the police, he said he would visit the Kurdistan Information Center often. However, a camera put on sale in a shop selling technical apparatus, right near that building, was recording by coincidence. The camera of the Carrefour market opposite the Information Centre was also recording. When compiled, the footage revealed that Güney was lying.
Moments of the triple murder and traces of the murderer
The footage showed that Güney had left the building at 12:56, and was the last person to see the three Kurdish women. This was his second and last exiting from the building. After his first exit he had gone to the Magenta car park and returned with a bag in his hand.
Autopsy results confirmed that the murders had been perpetrated at around 12:30. According to autopsy results, Sakine Cansız was killed with three bullets fired into her head, Fidan Doğan by a bullet into her face and Leyla Şaylemez by a bullet into her head. Two more bullets were fired at Doğan and Şaylemez in their heads, and the last bullet was fired into Doğan's mouth.
While leaving the building, Güney covers his head despite it not being rainy or snowy. Examinations revealed afterwards that spyware had been installed in all the computers inside, and all the information and data had been transferred to some addresses. Inspection of the suspect's bag and clothes exposed traces of the triple murder. DNA tests also confirmed Güney's involvement in the murders. The exposed documents, phone conversations and connections reveal the triple murder to be the work of a state.
Europe has failed this test
The first hearing in the case was set to begin on 23 January, a time coinciding with the institutionalisation of fascism in Turkey and new plans for murders in Europe. A short while ago, Kurdish media exposed some Turkish agents preparing for assassinations of Kurdish officials in Europe. Thousands of agents and informers are thought to be working for Turkish Intelligence in Europe, mainly in Germany.
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.
This article was written by Maxime Azadi for Yeni Özgür Politika daily and translated by ANF English service.
- Maxime Azadi