A Belgian court on Friday cleared several suspects accused of involvement in activities with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), news reports said.
The court judged that the PKK, including their armed branch, known as the People’s Defense Forces (HPG), is a non-state actor involved in an intensive non-international conflict between the PKK and Turkey.
“Insufficient objections were found to be able to conclude that the PKK/HPG was guilty of terrorist crimes outside of the aforementioned conflict area,” the ruling stated. “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 Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the decision. In a statement, Hami Aksoy, the ministry spokesperson, said “It is possible to appeal against the decision in the Belgium Court of Appeals. Turkey will continue its legal fight determinedly.”
Federal judicial authorities had requested that 36 individuals and companies be tried by a criminal court on charges of taking part in terrorist activity.
The PKK has fought a decades-long insurgency against Ankara over Kurdish rights, a conflict that claimed lives of more than 30,000 on both sides.
Meanwhile, Kurdish organizations welcomed the decision and called for the full removal of the PKK from European lists of terrorist groups.