The decision whether or not to extradite a Kurdish man wanted by German authorities has been postponed once again, with time running out very quickly for a Larnaca judge.
The extradition hearing of Cerkez Korkmaz, who is facing prosecution in Germany on terrorism-related charges, resumed on Monday with the judge saying she sent an email to justice ministry officials in order to seek clarification from German authorities.
The Honourable Maria Loizou said she posed a number of questions to German authorities in order to get clarification on some points regarding the extradition request of Korkmaz, who remains incarcerated at Nicosia’s Central Prisons penitentiary. He was arrested in Cyprus on March 21 at Larnaca International Airport as he was attempting to board a flight to Athens.
Last month, on April 24, the defence attorney challenged the extradition request, citing Korkmaz’ political asylum status in the Republic of Cyprus given in 2011. The defendant’s lawyer called to the witness stand a state official from the asylum services department, who argued that the Kurdish man was politically active in Turkey but never took part in a terrorism attack where civilians were killed. He also added that the Republic of Cyprus does not view the PKK as a terrorist group, while he had no information as to Korkmaz’ political actions from 2013 and onward.
The judge set a final deadline for May 16 when both defence and prosecution will have a chance to address the court following clarifications about the extradition request
But the state prosecution argued that the witness testimony from the asylum services was unlawful, citing that the official had no authorisation from the attorney general’s office to appear in court.
The witness said it was customary for administrators within the asylum service to appear in court. He also said the state did agree to extradite individuals with political asylum status in the past, but clarified that the extraditing requests did not come European countries.
On Monday, Judge Loizou set a final deadline for May 16 when both the defence and the prosecution will have a chance to address the court following clarifications regarding the request.
Cypriot authorities are seeking the extradition of the 60-year-old suspect based on an international arrest warrant issued by German authorities in connection with crimes committed in that country between 2013 and 2015.
According to the rules, German authorities must have a final answer by May 21, which is 60 days from the arrest, as to whether or not Korkmaz will be extradited.