Turkish Kurdish national Cerkez Korkmaz, who is wanted in Germany in connection with terrorism offences, said on Monday he was never a member of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) although it would have been an honour if he could.
Korkmaz, 60, took the stand on Monday during the hearing for his extradition to Germany. He told the Larnaca district court that he is not a PKK member because he did not qualify as he has a family, but it would have been an honour for him if he could have been a member of the party.
He said he founded with others the Democratic Social Party after serving a long prison sentence in Turkey.
Korkmaz also told court that he came in Cyprus in 2009 and was recognised as a political refugee. In 2012 he went to Germany, he said, where he was working as a volunteer in cultural Kurdish centres that were legal and registered with German authorities. The centres in question were under the umbrella of the Democratic Kurdish Society Congress Europe (KCDK-E), Korkmaz said. He has not been in Germany since 2014.
He added that PPK does not have branches in Germany or in other European countries including Cyprus.
Korkmaz also said that the European arrest warrant issued against him by Germany was based on information given by Turkey. If he is extradited to Germany, he said, he would be imprisoned, branded as a terrorist and would be eventually handed over to Turkey.
He also said that even if he was imprisoned in Germany, no country in Europe would allow him to stay after his release as he would have been deemed a terrorist.
He also wondered why he was not arrested while in Germany.
“I do not want to go to Germany,” he said, adding that he was law abiding and his struggle was at political and cultural levels.
Korkmaz also told court that the case against him and other Kurds living in Germany was launched after the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016 when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had asked the arrest of around 4,000 of his compatriots.
The court hearing was adjourned until July 1.
Korkmaz was arrested on March 21 at Larnaca airport from where he was due to travel to Athens, after it emerged during passport control that German authorities had issued a European arrest warrant and extradition request against him a few days earlier.
He has been living in Cyprus for a number of years after being recognised as a political refugee, and possesses Cypriot travel documents.
He is wanted in connection with terrorism offences allegedly committed between 2013 and 2015 in Germany concerning links to the PKK.