BRUSSELS (AA) – A Belgian court on Wednesday ruled that Fehriye Erdal, a terrorist group fugitive, will be tried in Belgium for crimes she committed in Turkey, including the 1996 murder of a prominent Turkish businessman.
Erdal, whose whereabouts are unknown since she broke house arrest in 2006, was absent from the hearing.
The extradition from Belgium of Erdal, a member of the terrorist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front (DHKP-C), had long been sought by Turkey.
At the hearing in Brugge, the prosecutor said Erdal will face charges of murdering Sabanci Holding's member of executive board Ozdemir Sabancı, ToyotaSa Director General Haluk Gorgun and secretary Nilgun Hasefe.
Sabanci, Gorgun, and Hasefe were killed by members of the DHKP-C at Istanbul’s Sabanci Center on Jan. 9, 1996. Erdal had been employed by the center and gave her accomplices access to it.
The judge ruled that the Brugge High Penal Court would try Erdal for murder in a bench trial, with no jury.
If convicted, Erdal could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
- Sabanci assassination
Police identified the culprits in the 1996 murder as Erdal, Ismail Akkol, and Mustafa Duyar. Duyar was jailed and killed in a prison revolt in 1999, while Erdal and Akkol became fugitives.
Akkol was captured this February and charged with plotting a terrorist attack.
After a 1999 fire at a building in Knokke, Belgium where she was staying, Erdal was detained for having a fake passport. After serving about one year in prison, she was put under house arrest, but fled in March 2006 for parts unknown.
Belgium has refused to extradite Erdal.
The court's decision came shortly after Turkey criticized Belgium after a tent hosting terrorist organization PKK propaganda was erected in capital Brussels.