Three jailed for Turkish social club arson attack
31 May 2012
Three women were jailed for a combined total of 19 years and four months at court on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 over an arson attack on a Turkish social club in north London, deemed by the judge to be politically and racially motivated.
Two of the women threw four home-made petrol bombs at the Coffee House of the People of Gumushane, because of its Turkish association.
Dilek Dag, 25; Altin Yadirgi, 28; and Dilan Eroglu, 20, pleaded guilty to arson with intent, being reckless as to whether life was endangered. Dag and Yadirgi were jailed for six years and eight months each, and Eroglu for six years.
The court heard the three women were sympathetic to and supported the aims of the Kurdish-linked proscribed group Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK).
The Metropolitan Police Service Police (MPS) Counter Terrorism Command (CTC) launched an investigation following the attack on 30 December 2011.
All three women pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing on 27 April 2012 and were remanded in custody to appear for sentence at Woolwich Crown Court on the 30 May.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, Senior National Coordinator Counter Terrorism, said:
"These women threw petrol bombs at an occupied social club. It is only by luck that none of these petrol bombs smashed during the course of this attack.Source : http://content.met.police.uk/News/Three-jailed-for-Turkish-social-club-arson-attack/1400008926994/1257246745756
"Had any of them done so the likely consequences would have been a catastrophic fireball that would have caused serious and life threatening injuries in the confined space of the social club."
Commander Mak Chishty, area commander for north London said:
"We know this attack caused great concern amongst the community in north London and we hope that today's sentencing will provide reassurance that police take these matters very seriously.
"The community should be confident that they can come to us with information and concerns and we will do everything in out power to bring those responsible before the courts."
The court heard that the women carried out the attack following a Turkish air force strike in Ululdere, in the Sirnak province of Turkey on 28 December 2011. Kurdish civilians were killed in the attack. They had been suspected of being PKK fighters.
The following night on 29 December 2011 at 23:30hrs Yadirgi and Dag bought a petrol can from a garage on Williamson Road in Haringey before collecting Eroglu and filling up the can at a petrol station on Glover Drive N18. They used the petrol to make four petrol bombs out of empty beer bottles stuffed with stuffed cloth wicks.
They drove over to 94 Green Lanes N16 later the same night. The social club, known as the "Coffee House of the People of Gumushane" is used predominantly by people from a region of Turkey who are non-Kurds. The prosecution alleged it was chosen by the defendants as they would likely have viewed the Turkish association as a legitimate target.
There were ten people aged 40 to 50 inside the coffee house at 01:15hrs on 30 December 2011 playing cards and drinking coffee, when two women pushed open the door of the club and threw four lit petrol-filled bottles inside before running off.
The fire caught between the door and a partition wall. A table cloth, carpet and chairs set alight and members tried to extinguish the fire with their jackets. A neighbouring businessman spotted the fire and used his own extinguisher to put out the flames before the emergency services arrived.
One customer ran outside to chase the women but realised his arm and left leg were alight. He was suffered minor burns and was treated at the scene by London Ambulance Service.
Detectives from the CTC identified Eroglu, Dag, and Yadirgi using CCTV footage of them buying the petrol and also mobile phone evidence. Eroglu's fingerprint was found on one of the bottles and further forensic examination revealed DNA traces to Eroglu and Yadirgi.
CCTV footage retrieved after the incident also shows a Ford Focus car making stops to buy the petrol and petrol can and making loops around the block past the social club at 94 Green Lane, conducting hostile reconnaissance of the social club in advance of their attack.
They were arrested on 2 January 2012 on suspicion of arson and gave no comment in interview. All three were subsequently charged as above.
A further charge of arson with intent to endanger life and a charge of possession of explosive substances with intent to endanger life were ordered to lie on file.