Italy arrests Turkish man linked to DHKP-C terrorist group
by Yusuf Ziya Durmuş
ISTANBULApr 06, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Yusuf Ziya Durmuş
Apr 06, 2015 12:00 am
Turkish media reported that a member of the terrorist DHKP-C detained in Italy over the weekend was one of the suspects who orchestrated the killing of a prosecutor in Istanbul last week
A man detained in Italy over the weekend is reportedly behind the killing of a prosecutor at an Istanbul courthouse last week, which was claimed by the way terrorist organization, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).
Turkish media outlets reported that Erdal Ünal, 45, was the instigator of last Tuesday's killing of Mehmet Selim Kiraz. Kiraz was taken hostage in his office at the courthouse by two militants from the DHKP-C. After hours of negotiations, security forces stormed the room when the militants shot the prosecutor, killing the two attackers.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had announced that the militants made several phone calls abroad during the hostage crisis and pledged they would reveal their connections.
Ünal already had an international arrest warrant issued by Turkish prosecutors over his involvement in Molotov cocktail attacks at a university and branches of various banks between 1994 and 1995 in Ankara.
He was on vacation in Venice when a team from the General Investigation and Special Operations Division (DIGOS), Italy's special operations police unit, raided the hotel where he was staying as he was preparing to check out. Ünal, who has been living in Austria on a residence permit, and his Austrian wife were detained in the operation. He is currently being held in Italy's Santa Maria Maggiore prison. Italian media reported that Ünal was also a DHKP-C recruiter.
Turkey's Habertürk newspaper reported that Turkish officials contacted their Italian counterparts for the extradition of Ünal to Turkey.
Intelligence reports on the two terrorists who were killed at the Istanbul courthouse reportedly revealed that they made a call to senior officials of the terrorist organization in Greece. Over the phone, senior militants allegedly ordered Bahtiyar Doğruyol, one of the terrorists, to kill Kiraz. Lengthy phone calls were made to Agonas, a Greece-based daily published by the terrorist organization's members, during the hostage crisis in the courthouse. Upon instruction from DHKP-C leaders in Greece, Doğruyol shot the prosecutor.
Intelligence sources quoted by Turkish media said his superiors were working at the magazine and a television station affiliated with the terrorist organization. Greece has long been a favorite hideaway for DHKP-C militants as well as the PKK, another terrorist organization. Under the guise of asylum seekers fleeing persecution at home, terrorists are often accepted into the country.
It is not known how Ünal was living in Austria despite his international arrest warrant, but several EU countries have long been accused of harboring members of terrorist organizations that carry out attacks in Turkey. The DHKP-C is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the U.S. Yet its members, as in the case of Greece, find ways to take up residence in EU countries. Fehriye Erdal, another DHKP-C member involved in the killing of a prominent Turkish businessman in 1996, had fled to Belgium after the murder. She was detained in 1999, and after a lengthy trial she disappeared while under police surveillance after she was released pending trial on charges of illegal entry into Belgium and being a member of a terrorist organization.
The DHKP-C, founded in 1994, is responsible for a string of attacks targeting Turkish security forces and American elements in Turkey. Splintered from a radical armed faction that was behind a series of high-profile assassinations, DHKP-C has stepped up its attacks in recent years. In 2013, a militant from the terrorist organization blew himself up outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, killing a Turkish security guard.
The DHKP-C also claimed responsibility for non-lethal rocket attacks targeting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters, the Turkish National Police headquarters and a Justice Ministry building in Ankara in 2013.
Prior to the courthouse shooting, the DHKP-C had claimed responsibility for attacks on police in Istanbul earlier this year, and last week one of its members was shot dead as she opened fire on the police in front of the Turkish National Police's Istanbul headquarters.