PARIS, Jan 21, 2013 (AFP) – An associate of three female Kurdish activists shot dead in Paris has been charged with their murder, a French prosecutor announced following an indictment hearing on Monday.
The 30-year-old man was one of two ethnic Kurds detained last week by a specialist anti-terrorist unit in connection with the January 9 slayings.
He has been charged with carrying out the murders as part of a terrorist group and conspiracy to commit murder as part of a terrorist group.
“We believe he is is likely to have been the killer or one of the killers,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference.
The other man detained last week was earlier freed without charge.
The suspect accused of the murder was an occasional driver for one of the victims, according to police sources.
The three women, one of them 55-year-old Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were found dead on the morning of January 10 at a Kurdish centre in the French capital.
They had all been repeatedly shot in the head.
The killings came against a background of tentative peace talks between Turkey and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan aimed at ending three decades of conflict which have claimed 45,000 lives.
Turkey has suggested the murders could be the result of an internal feud within the PKK between opponents and supporters of the negotiations with Turkey.
Kurdish groups suspect Turkish extremists with links to the security services were behind the Paris slaying, which they say is part of a pattern of recent attacks on Kurdish activists.
French police are examining the possibility of the killings having been linked to extortion rackets used to raise funds for the PKK from the large expatriate communities in western Europe.
Turkey and its Western allies regard the PKK as a terrorist organisation while the outlawed movement defends its armed rebellion as a legitimate struggle for self-determination.