A Belgian appeals court confirmed a scandalous ruling Thursday that suspects and institutions linked to the PKK terrorist group involved in abdication of minors, deprivation of liberty or death threats cannot be investigated and tried within the scope of anti-terror laws.
The Indictments Chamber evaluated the Federal Prosecutor's Office's appeal on a ruling issued by a first instance court in Brussels in November 2016 that said 36 suspects linked to the PKK, including the so-called Europe executives of the terrorist group, could not be tried with terrorism charges since the group conducts "armed struggle," despite the fact that the group is recognized as a terror organization by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.
The federal prosecutor has the right to appeal this decision at Belgium's Supreme Court.
The case followed a judicial inquiry launched in 2006, which claimed that PKK members were recruiting young Kurds in Belgium and other western European countries after they had been torn from their families. These youths were then taken to training camps in eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and Greece, where they received training in guerilla fighting tactics and suicide attacks.
The suspects were also charged of having manufactured and marketed false papers and documents as well as collecting funds from private individuals and traders, mostly under threat.
The suspects include two high-ranking executives of the PKK in Europe, Remzi Kartal and Zübeyir Aydar.
The charges also include the use of violence, racketeering, using a radio station in the town of Denderleeuw as a PKK contact bureau and spreading the terrorist organization's propaganda.
In March 2010, Belgian police launched an investigation into the PKK and raided 18 houses in several provinces. During the operations, Kartal and Aydar were arrested, but then were released by the court pending trial. The investigation on the charges was initiated in 2006 and a lawsuit was launched in October 2015.
Belgium has previously come under fire from Turkish authorities for their tolerance of PKK demonstrations in the country, including setting up a tent in downtown Brussels with an exhibition of pro-PKK propaganda and allowing the residence of suspected terrorists.
Since the PKK resumed its 30-year armed campaign in late July 2015, more than 1,200 members of the security forces and civilians have been killed.
Though the PKK is on the EU's official terrorist organization list, Turkey has complained of member states' indifference to the terrorist group. Ankara argues that although in rhetoric EU leaders condemn PKK terror, the activities of the group in the EU countries contradict the EU authorities' stances.