Kurd extradited to Germany on terrorist charge

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The Independent Online
A Kurdish leader has been extradited to Germany to face charges of masterminding a series of terrorist attacks after spending 33 months in a British jail fighting deportation.

Supporters of Kani Yilmaz, European spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, which is fighting a guerrilla campaign against the Turkish authorities for Kurdish independence, yesterday accused the British government of supporting state terrorism.

Mr Yilmaz, 47, also known as Faysal Dunlayichi, is accused of playing a leading role in planning nearly 140 arson attacks on Turkish businesses, banks, travel agencies and other interests throughout Germany in 1993. The PKK are outlawed in Germany, where one man was killed in a restaurant arson.He was arrested in London outside the House of Commons in October 1994 as he was about to meet a Labour MP and a peer to discuss the Kurdish issue. He had been allowed into Britain on a number of occasions with the permission of immigration officials.

Mr Yilmaz and his supporters, who include a number of Labour MPs, have been fighting a Germany extradition order, but Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, has agreed to it.

They believe he could face imprisonment in Germany for his political beliefs. He and other party members have highlighted widespread human rights abuses against the Kurds by the Turkish government.

His imprisonment at Belmarsh high security jail in south London led to street battles with Kurdish demonstrators and protests by more than 2,000 Kurds outside the Home Office.

Mark Campbell, a member of the Kurdistan Solidarity Committee, a campaign group in London, said that Mr Yilmaz, who arrived in Germany on Wednesday, was determined to fight his case in court.

He added: "There is supposed to be freedom of speech in Britain. A political representative should be allowed into this country to talk about peaceful solutions without fear of arrest."

thousands of Kurds live.