Kurds jailed for London bombing campaign: Attacks aimed at Turkish targets

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The Independent Online
THREE Kurdish terrorists who launched a bombing campaign against Turkish targets in Britain while seeking refuge here were jailed yesterday for terms ranging from 12 to 15 years.

Hours before the men were sentenced masked intruders thought to be from a Kurdish separatist group wrecked the offices of a Turkish newspaper in London. Police said four men entered the offices of the Turkish language daily Hurriyet in Stoke Newington, north London, and daubed paint on office equipment.

Later at the Old Bailey Cafer Kovaycin, 30, of Lower Edmonton; Zervet Ozen, 19, of Hornsey; and Hikmet Bozat, 33, of Upper Holloway, all north London, were convicted of conspiracy to damage property by fire with intent to endanger life on 4 November last year. They were also convicted of damaging property by fire. Ozen was jailed for 12 years but the other two each received 15-year sentences.

As they were led to cells a lone protester was bundled by police from the public gallery after he repeatedly shouted 'Long live Kurdistan'.

Judge Ann Goddard told the three men that she was not sentencing them for any political beliefs they may hold. 'What I am concerned with is petrol bomb attacks on the streets of London,' she said. 'There are no legitimate targets for such attacks - endangering life is more important than damaging property and the intention to do so is even worse.'

Earlier, David Paget, for the prosecution, said that after their arrest all three were found to have literature 'indicating either interest in or sympathy with a Kurdistan separatist organisation (the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK)'. But he added that there was no evidence on which the Crown could say that the organisation had been behind the attacks.

The terrorists had all sought asylum in Britain but in sentencing them the judge recommended that they eventually be deported.

The three were involved in firebombings aimed at two Turkish banks in the City of London on 4 November last year - the same day as a wave of attacks against Turkish offices across Europe. A woman was injured in one of the attacks. Also on that day, Kurdish protesters targeted the Turkish Islamic Centre in Stoke Newington, the Turkish Airlines office in the West End of London and the Turkish Embassy in Belgrave Square.

Mr Paget said it would seem that the London attacks were brought about by 'Kurd resentment at what the Turks are doing, or allegedly doing, to the Kurds in Turkey'.

Meanwhile, last night police were investigating the possibility that the PKK or another group, Dev Sol, were behind the early morning attack on the north London newspaper office.