After Turkey's condemnation, Belgian prosecutors appeal against controversial PKK ruling
by Mehmet Solmaz
BRUSSELSNov 05, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Mehmet Solmaz
Nov 05, 2016 12:00 am
A federal court in Belgium ruled on Friday that the activities of the PKK terrorist organization cannot be classed as terrorism and rather fall under the definition of an "armed campaign." The court ruling, which federal prosecutors immidattely appealed against on the same day, was strongly criticized by Turkey.
In a statement released early Friday, the Foreign Ministry condemned the Belgian court's ruling. "We see this decision as the indicator of an unprincipled attitude and the mindset that has allowed the PKK terrorist organization to openly carry out activities until today, and condemn it," the Foreign Ministry said. It was also noted that Turkey expects Belgian justice to take steps to immediately fix the "grave mistake." The Turkish state is among the intervening parties in the case.
A Brussels court hearing the case against 36 members of the PKK refused the prosecutor's request to send the suspects to be tried by a higher criminal court, saying that the PKK is carrying out an armed struggle and its activities cannot be regarded as terrorism. The ruling came on the very same day when PKK terrorists carried out a bombing attack in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, killing two police officers and six civilians.
When Daily Sabah tried reaching the Belgian authorities to comment on how a domestic court can contradict EU laws, authorities declined to comment. An official from the Belgian Justice Ministry refused to comment, citing a separation of powers, but the official also referred us to the Prime Ministry to get a response on the issue. The decision was made despite the group being listed as a terrorist organization by the EU. The terrorist organizations listing is binding on all the 28 members of the bloc.
The suspects are accused of kidnapping children from their families in Belgium and other "Western countries" and sending them for training in Greece and Iraq. They are also accused of forging documents and extorting businessmen.
The court case began in October 2015 following an investigation that began in 2006. Senior PKK members Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar are among the 36 suspects who were arrested during raids on 18 locations across Belgium in March 2010.
Belgium has been criticized in the past for failing to act against the PKK. In August, supporters in Brussels were allowed to celebrate the anniversary of the terror group's first attack in 1984 and five months ago followers had been allowed to set up tents outside EU buildings ahead of a Turkey-EU summit.