Belgian minister denies stories on Erdal’s death

March 01, 2011, Tuesday/ 17:16:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Stories that appeared in the media on Sunday claiming that Fehriye Erdal, one of the three suspects in the 1996 murder of businessman Özdemir Sabancı, which was carried out in an armed attack at his office at the Sabancı Business Center, was killed by her organization, the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), are untrue, Belgian Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck has said.

Responding to questions from Today’s Zaman, Clerck said there was no evidence to suggest that Erdal had been killed, adding that Belgian authorities were still actively looking for the suspect, who has been missing since 2006. He said none of the relevant agencies involved in the search for Erdal had any concrete information that would lead them to conclude that she has been killed.

Erdal has been missing for five years despite a 30-member team from Belgian intelligence and security units who were supposed to constantly monitor her every move. On Saturday Belgian papers Het Belang van Limburg and Gazet van Antwerpen Saturday reported that Belgian intelligence sources believe there is a high probability that Erdal had been executed by the DHKP/C. The newspapers quoted a counterterrorism official who said: “Erdal is a small fish inside the organization, but she knows more than she should. The costs of hiding someone for so long are also very high.” None of the sources quoted by the papers were named, but they all said it would make more sense to simply close the Erdal case instead of returning to it repeatedly.

After the Sabancı murder, Erdal fled to Belgium, where she stood trial but was not arrested. In 2006 she disappeared. Belgian police asked Interpol to issue a red notice for the young woman. However, Belgian authorities have stopped actively looking for her, according to the newspapers, out of the belief that she had possibly been executed by the DHKP/C.

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