Paris - The driver of a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader shot dead in Paris with two other female activists has been charged with their murder, a French prosecutor announced Monday.
Omer Guney, 30, was one of two ethnic Kurds detained last week by a specialist anti-terrorist unit in connection with the January 9 slayings.
After an indictment hearing on Monday, he was 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 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.
Judicial sources said Guney was an occasional driver for one of the victims, 55-year-old Sakine Cansiz, a co-founder of the outlawed PKK.
He has told police he has been a PKK member for the last two years.
Cansiz and two other women 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.
According to the prosecutor, Guney had claimed in his first statement to police that he had dropped Cansiz at the centre on the evening of January 9 and left around 11:30 pm.
CCTV images however showed him coming out of the centre just before 1:00 am, suggesting he was there at the time the women were shot, Molins said.
“That is a key element of our case,” he said.
The prosecutor added however that DNA samples taken from one of the bullets used in the killings did not match up with Guney's and stressed that the investigation remained at an early stage.
“All avenues of investigation in terms of a motive for this triple murder remain open,” Molins said.
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 will interpret the charges announced on Monday as confirmation of its belief that the murders were most likely 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. - Sapa-AFP