* Turkish immigrant to France jailed for Kurdish murders
* French magistrate eyes trips, calls to Turkey for clues
* Delay in seeking Turkish aid shows political
By Nicholas Vinocur
PARIS, Oct 23 French investigators trying to
solve the murder of three Kurdish activists in Paris have
collected evidence about the chief suspect's connections to
Turkey, four sources with knowledge of the investigation told
Police sources told Reuters the magistrate in charge of the
case was about to lodge a formal appeal for information to
Turkey about Omer Guney, a Turkish immigrant placed under formal
investigation for the triple murder eight months ago.
The move could mark a turning point in the case, which has
become a rallying cry for Europe's large population of ethnic
Kurds. It comes after disclosures that Guney took at least three
trips to Turkey and made dozens of phone calls to contacts there
in the months before the killings, lawyers with access to
investigation files told Reuters.
The Turkish justice ministry did not immediately respond to
requests for comment on cooperation with France in the case.
The murders of Sakine Cansiz, 55, a founding member of the
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK); Fidan Dogan, 32, a spokeswoman
for the cause in France and Europe; and a trainee named Leyla
Saylemez, 25, sent a shockwave through Europe's large Kurdish
community. The women were shot as ceasefire talks to end 29
years of war between the PKK and Turkey were starting.
The key question asked by lawyers and victims' family
members is who ordered the killing. Kurds who gather each week
by the crime scene say it was a political assassination.
French police quickly arrested Guney, 30. Surveillance
footage placed him at the scene, and partial DNA from one of the
victims was found on a parka belonging to him, lawyers said.
Guney, who says he is innocent, has been awaiting trial for
eight months in solitary confinement near Paris. His lawyer,
Anne-Sophie Laguens, said she planned to apply to have him freed
under court supervision because he was not receiving proper
treatment for a brain tumour that induced seizures.
Laguens said she was also waiting for answers from Turkey
regarding her client's trips. Guney told investigators he had
travelled to Turkey to find a wife and had bought tickets with
disability payments he received from the French state.
Lawyers both for Guney and the victims' families in France
and in Turkey say the investigation has dragged due to concern
about political fallout from a case involving two NATO allies
linked by a 2011 bilateral security accord.
"It's my impression that we (the French investigation) have
received more information in this case through Turkish media
than through international cooperation," said Antoine Comte, a
lawyer for the Kurdish victims in France.
Police sources said Turkish authorities had earlier provided
some biographical information about Guney, but the French
magistrate was expected to seek responses to recent disclosures.
A spokesman for France's foreign ministry said the French
state exerts no influence over judicial investigations.
Paris' anti-terrorism court denied that political tension was
slowing down the case.
New evidence could upset a ceasefire brokered between the
PKK and Turkey: Kurdish rebels are disappointed with Turkish
efforts to address their grievances and have said they are
considering whether to maintain the deal.
Lawyers also questioned the efficiency of judicial
cooperation after the Turkish pro-government newspaper Bugun
wrote that the prosecutor in Ankara had accused French
authorities in August of failing to respond to his requests for
details in the case.
Turkish media wrote earlier this year that the Ankara
prosecutor is conducting a separate probe under an article of
penal law which says a person who commits a crime abroad while
in the service of the Turkish state can be tried in Turkey, even
if he is already found guilty abroad and/or has served time.
Turkish media said the Ankara prosecutor is seeking to
establish whether Guney was in the service of the Turkish state.
The prosecutor's office did not respond to requests for comment.
"We feel that since the crime was committed in France, the
real interlocutors are the French authorities. They must respond
to the Turkish requests for information," said Meral Danis
Bestas, a lawyer in Turkey for the victims' families.
Two pieces of evidence in investigation files highlight
Guney's alleged ties to people in Turkey: three trips in August,
October and December of 2012, and phone records from one of five
cell phones that police say belonged to Guney. The latter show
"dozens" of calls to Turkish numbers in the same period.
Comte said records of Guney's phone activity with Turkey
were placed in the investigations file in July, five months
after his arrest. These contacts could be crucial to finding out
whether Guney was involved in the killings and, if so, with or
without foreign backing. However, the details cannot be checked
without help from Turkey, Comte said.
"You need an order from a Turkish judge to identify the
interlocutors," said another lawyer for the victims' families,
In France lawyers for victims can join criminal proceedings.
They have access to investigation files and participate in
trials. The Turkish system has similar provisions.
While the French magistrate prepares to seek information
from Turkey, one of the lawyers with access to the investigation
file pointed also to hold-ups on the French side.
A month after Guney's arrest, investigators from the French
anti-terrorist unit, Sdat, checked the contents of a borrowed
Peugeot car he used on the day of the killing; it was their
second try. Dismantling the car, they found a passport behind
the radio with stamps for three trips to Turkey, and a
dry-cleaning bill dated a few days after the killings, Comte
"When Guney was brought in, they missed half the things in
his car," the lawyer said. "The dry-cleaning bill didn't enter
the investigation file until a month later. If you look at the
transcripts of the first hours of questioning, all they are
doing is trying to update their archives about PKK activities."
Police sources had no comment on allegations that evidence
was missed in the first search of Guney's car. They said
questioning had focused on his links to the PKK because he
claimed to be a member. PKK officials have denied Guney was a
member of the group.
The appeal to Turkey for judicial help, to be lodged by
investigating magistrate Jeanne Duye, comes after similar
requests were sent to Holland and Germany - where Guney lived
for nine years - and received replies.
Other factors are also complicating the investigation. On
Sept. 25 Duye's computer containing judicial files was stolen
from her home. Duye's office did not respond to a request for
comment. Duye has not spoken publicly about the murder case.