Politics, Europe

Belgium's high court paves way for trial of PKK members

Supreme Court reverses lower court's decision not to try PKK members for terrorism links

Belgium's high court paves way for trial of PKK members

By Ata Ufuk Seker and Yusuf Hatip


Belgium’s Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a lower court’s decision on the PKK terror organization, paving the way for its members to face trial in the country.

Judicial sources told Anadolu Agency that the Supreme Court reversed a judgment by the Court of Appeals that PKK members cannot be tried for terrorism links.

The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office had challenged the lower court’s decision before the Supreme Court’s verdict, sources said.

The Supreme Court's decision paves the way for the trial of at least 36 people with alleged links to the PKK terrorist group.

The Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office in 2016 appealed the court ruling that PKK activities could not be classed as terrorism but as an “armed campaign”.

The court in November that year had refused the prosecutor’s request to send 36 alleged PKK members to a higher criminal court, saying an “armed campaign cannot be considered as terrorist acts”.

The decision was made despite the group being listed as a terrorist organization by the EU, the U.S. and Turkey.

The suspects are accused of kidnapping children from their families in Belgium and other European countries and sending them to Greece and Iraq for training.

They are also accused of forging documents and extorting businessmen.

Among those standing trial are Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar, accused of being senior members of the PKK’s European arm. 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.

In August last year, the movement’s supporters in Brussels were allowed to celebrate the anniversary of the terror group’s first attack in Turkey on Aug. 15, 1984.

Five months earlier, PKK sympathizers had been allowed to set up tents outside EU buildings ahead of a Turkey-EU summit.

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