Cyprus Mail

Wanted Kurd was granted asylum because of Turkish persecution

Protest by members of the Kurdish community against the extradition of Korkmaz Cerkez,

A Kurdish man wanted in Germany on terrorism charges had been granted asylum by Cyprus due to his political action in Turkey, a Larnaca court heard on Wednesday.

Korkmaz Cerkez, 60, was arrested on March 21 at Larnaca airport, just before boarding a flight to Athens.

He has been detained on a European arrest warrant issued by Germany, which is seeking Korkmaz on terrorism charged relating to the activity of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party.

Asylum service officer Andreas Agrotis told the court on Wednesday that Cerkez had been granted protection in Cyprus because of his political activity in Turkey on behalf of various Kurdish parties that were later declared illegal.

His main activity was with the SHP, the Social Democratic Party, which operates in Turkey and was a branch of the PKK, the court heard.

Agrotis said Cerkez had told the asylum service of his activity and his claims had been confirmed.

He was granted asylum because he had been persecuted and suffered torture in Turkey – did a 10-year stretch in jail and has other pending cases relating to his alleged involvement with the PKK.

Agrotis said Cyprus has not officially declared PKK as terrorist organisation and Cerkez had not taken part in any terrorist actions in which civilians had been killed.

The officer said Turkey has nothing to do with the warrant in question and admitted that his department did not know what the defendant did in Germany between 2013 and 2015.

He added that his department was not mandated to investigate the activity of each asylum applicant but other branches informed the service of any offences that could prompt withdrawal of their status.

The case continues on May 13.

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