ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
While Turkey is trying to speed up the extradition of a leading member of an outlawed group through international mechanisms, the country's non-recognition of Greek Cyprus is weakening the hand of Ankara.
Aslan Tayfun Özkök of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front, or DHKP/C, was captured in Greek Cyprus on his way to the Netherlands, where he was to attend the funeral ceremony of another member of the organization, it was revealed yesterday.
Özkök is wanted by Interpol on a red bulletin, but his extradition to Turkey is a matter of debate as Ankara does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration and it is unclear how official procedures can start. A Turkish diplomat told the Turkish Daily News that Ankara was seeking extradition through �indirect� channels, namely Interpol.
�We only have a demand and hope to get positive consequences,� he said, without referring to the Greek Cypriot leadership. So far allegations circulating have revealed that criminals and terrorists wanted by Turkey would rather flee to the south of the Mediterranean island due to Ankara's lack of diplomatic ties with the Greek Cypriots.
Özkök was to replace chieftain
Many believed Özkök would replace Dursun Karataş as the leader of DHKP/C after the death of the latter from cancer in the Netherlands. News reports said yesterday that Özkök was readying for the leadership of the outlawed group, but there was friction between him and group members Musa Asoğlu and Zerrin Sarı -- a lawyer who it is claimed had an affair with Karataş.
Bearing a number of nicknames -- including Musa, Adem, Ziya, Barbaros and Özcan-- Özkök ran away from Turkey, where he stood trial on charges of assassinating former Prime Minister Nihat Erim and a former deputy police chief, Mahmut Dikler, and faced capital punishment.
According to intelligence reports, Özkök recently turned out to be very influential in the DHKP/C and was making decisions on behalf of Karataş, whose health had deteriorated due to cancer. Before his capture, another DHKP/C member, Mustafa Uyar, one of the suspects in the assassination of prominent Turkish businessman Özdemir Sabancı, had said he stayed in the house of Özkök when the latter was in charge of the DHKP/C's Syria office. Uyar then claimed that Özkök had a luxurious office with a private secretary, driver and guards.
�I was impressed by the way Özkök has lived in Damascus and thought about two things: This money either comes from drug trafficking or secret services. Having seen the luxurious lives and man-woman relations within the organization I've realized that the aim is not to serve the public. I decided to surrender when understood that the organization was aware of my thoughts and was following me,� Uyar said at the time, before he was later killed in the Afyon prison.