Belgian appeals court whitewashes PKK terrorists

MEHMET SOLMAZ
Brussels
Published 09.03.2019 00:19

In a controversial move, the Brussels Appeals Court ruled on Friday that members of the PKK couldn't be charged with terrorism, dismissing terror charges on all 36 suspects in a PKK case in the country.

The decision came after the Federal Prosecutors Office appealed an earlier decision. Prosecutors argue that the ruling contradicted Belgium and the EU recognizing the group as a terrorist organization. Suspects in the case are accused of kidnapping children from their families in Belgium and European countries and sending them to Greece and Iraq for training before putting them into the ranks of the PKK's military wing. They are also accused of forging documents and extorting businessmen.

The appeals court says the counterterrorism laws cannot be imposed on the suspects since they are not waging a war on Belgium, but Turkey.

When the initial decision was made by the court in 2017, the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement said the decision "reveals once again the fact that Belgium is a weak link in countering terrorism in Europe and in the world." Turkey also intervened as a third party in the appeal process against the ruling and voiced its discomfort on several occasions.

Among those standing trial were Remzi Kartal and Zübeyir Aydar, accused of being senior members of the PKK's European network. They were among PKK suspects arrested in March 2010 in raids on 18 addresses across Belgium. The court case began in October 2015 following an investigation that began in 2006. Belgium has been criticized in the past for failing to act against the PKK.

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