January 23, 2017 / 4:12 PM / 3 years ago

France closes court case over murder of Kurdish militants

PARIS (Reuters) - France has dropped all court proceedings over the 2013 murders of three Kurdish activists after the death of the main suspect, judicial sources said on Monday, despite street protests demanding that inquiries continue.

Sakine Cansiz, a founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the early 1980s, and two other Kurdish women were found dead in the Kurdish Information Centre in Paris in January 2013 with gunshots to the head.

The trial of 34-year old Turkish national Omer Guney had been due to open on Monday. But Guney, who maintained his innocence, died in December of complications arising from a brain tumor. He had been placed under formal investigation within about a week of the triple murder.

French officials involved in the investigation have implied that Guney may have been acting on instructions from the intelligence services in Turkey, although they have not been able to prove who exactly was behind the murders.

Turkey’s intelligence services have denied any involvement in the murders, suggesting instead they were related to internal disputes in the PKK which has fought a 30-year struggle for Kurdish autonomy from Turkey. The PKK is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Guney’s lawyer, Anne-Sophie Laguens, said on Monday that Guney had sought the hearing on Monday to present his case and the outcome was not satisfying for anybody.

“If we had held the hearing six months earlier we might have had a judicial response,” she said.

“We are in France and the important elements (of the case) are in Turkey,” said Jean-Louis Malterre, one of the lawyers acting for the victims’ families.

Some 5,500 people marched through central Paris on Jan. 7 demanding that French authorities press on with an investigation to establish who was behind the killing of the three women.

Reporting by Chine Labbe; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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