Belgian court rules that PKK is not a terrorist organisation
A court in Belgium acquitted 36 individuals and companies accused of activities involving the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on the grounds that the group cannot be considered a terrorist organisation, news website Kurdistan24 reported on Saturday.
PKK has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey for self-rule and deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and Europe.
"The Belgian Chamber of Indictment, however, blocked prosecution against all those standing trial in the case, ruling that the conflict involving the PKK in Turkey is an 'internal armed conflict' and, as such, the group cannot be considered a terrorist organization," the news site said.
The court ruled that the autonomy-seeking PKK, and its armed wing the People’s Defense Forces (HPG), are non-state actors engaged in a conflict between the organisation and the Turkish state thus the is bound up with international humanitarian laws since it involves the organisation's acts taking place on Turkish soil.
There is not enough evidence to able to conclude that the PKK is involved in 'terrorist crimes outside of the aforementioned conflict area', according to the Belgian court.
“Therefore, the PKK/HPG cannot be considered as a terrorist group, and the participation in the activities or having a leading position within this organization is not punishable under Belgian criminal law,” the court's stated.
Following the ruling, the sworn enemy of the PKK, Ankara condemned the court's decision.
“It is possible to appeal against the decision in the Belgium Court of Appeals. Turkey will continue its legal fight determinedly,” Kurdistan24 quoted the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy as saying.
The Belgian court has also ruled a similar decision in 2015 following a case against members of the group in the country for 'recruiting youth to fight in their armed struggle'.