Brussels – For almost a decade, Belgium’s Federal Prosecutors have been trying to convict Belgian Kurds who sympathized with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). On Thursday, the prosecutor’s case was dismissed by a court in Brussels.
The investigation started in 2006. At the time, Belgian authorities had expressed concern that the PKK was recruiting Kurdish youths in Europe and then spiriting them to training camps, nestled into Iraqi mountains and Greek islands.
While these fears would turn out to be exaggerated, they quickly took on a life of their own. In 2010, a case was opened by the Belgian Federal Prosecutor against Kurdish politicians for selling forged documents and fundraising on behalf of a terrorist entity.
Many Kurdish politicians were then arrested in Brussels, Dendermonde, Antwerpen, Verviers, Namen, Leuven and Luik. Amongst those arrested were Remzi Kartal, Zubeyir Aydar and Adem Uzun, who held leadership positions with the Kurdistan National Congress (KNC).
The presiding judge has now decided that the 36 suspects cannot be prosecuted. He reasoned that since an armed conflict is underway in Turkey, Belgium’s Anti-Terrorism Act was not applicable. The Federal Prosecutor retains the right to appeal the case to a higher court.
The KNC issued a statement on Thursday lauding the ruling. According to the Kurdish political party, the “resolution recognizes that a war is going on in Turkey and that the allegations of the Turkish state, saying that the Kurds are terrorists, is [transparently] false.”
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