Apr 17 2019

German court convicts 4 PKK-linked arsonists over Turkish property attacks

A German court has jailed four men over attacks on Turkish properties near Hanover in support of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Wednesday.

The arson bids of last year coincided with Turkey's seizure of the Kurdish enclave Afrin in the north of neighbouring Syria.

Three Syrians and an Iraqi of Kurdish and Yazidi origins and aged between 21- 24 were each jailed for terms of more than two years by a special state security court in Germany's northern Lower Saxony state, Deutsche Welle said.

The verdicts follows an incident last year in which attempts to set ablaze a car that bore a sticker "Ataturk,"a reference to the founder of the Turkish republic, in addition to a building used by Turkish shopkeepers in Garbsen.

The promptly extinguished blazes preceded a peaceful rally attended by thousands of Kurds in Hanover on March 17, 2018, in protest at Turkey's offensive to capture Afrin as well as Germany's arms dealings with Ankara.

The Lower Saxony's Higher Regional Court jailed two accused, aged 23, for two-and-half years after finding them guilty of playing a role in the attempted vehicle arson of March 11.

The two others, aged 21 and 24, were jailed for two years and three months, on the main charges of attempted arson and supporting the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the EU.

The accused have been in custody since the first half of 2018 and the verdicts are still subject to potential appeals, it said.

Court records indicate that all four were refugees from Syria and Iraq, Deutsche Welle said.

Germany is home to 3 million people with family origins in Turkey, of which a quarter are Kurdish.