A Belgian prosecutor sought 30-year prison term for Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) terrorist Fehriye Erdal for crimes committed in Turkey on Monday, in addition to a 15-year long security precaution decision.
Erdal was involved in the killing of prominent Turkish businessman Özdemir Sabancı in 1996. After being hired as maintenance staff by Sabancı Holding, Erdal assisted other DHKP-C militants, Ismail Akkol and Mustafa Duyar, to enter Sabancı Towers in Istanbul to assassinate Sabancı along with Haluk Görgün, the general manager of ToyotaSA, and secretary Nilgün Hasefe.
Erdal had fled first to Greece hiding in a truck and then to Belgium after the murder and was not extradited to Turkey despite demands. She was acquitted of all charges in 2008 and went missing. Belgium does not recognize her as a terrorist and describes her as a “gang member.”
A recently acquired video from March showed Erdal in a meeting with other DHKP-C members. Obtained from Belgian sources, the video raises the question of why Belgian police are yet to capture her, despite their awareness of her membership in a banned terrorist organization in Turkey.
Akkol was captured in February in Turkey’s western Aydın province 20 years after the incident. After a call was received claiming that Akkol, who was on the run in Greece, had returned to Turkey and was seen at the Söke bus terminal, police launched an immediate operation in the area. Along with Akkol, Fadik Adıyaman, another member of the DHKP-C, was taken into custody.
The two suspects were found to be in possession of rifles and explosives and were reportedly on their way to carry out a terrorist attack on an unspecified target.
Contrary to Turkey’s stance in its fight against the PKK and DAESH, Belgium has been a safe haven for many members of various terrorist organizations and ignores Ankara’s constant demands for the extradition of terrorists. Belgium’s stance on the PKK and DHKP-C has drawn fire from Ankara, as both terrorist organizations are included on the EU’s terrorist organization list.
Even though Turkey deported Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, one of the suicide bombers in last week’s Brussels attacks, from the southeastern province of Gaziantep in July of 2015, Belgium has rejected Ankara’s repeated demands to extradite PKK and other terrorist group members and continues to allow them to live free. Ankara has demanded that 30 accused terrorists be extradited from Belgium, but 20 extradition orders were rejected, while the processes for nine are still pending and one was for Fidan Doğan who was murdered in Paris.