According to the 7SUR7 news website, a Brussels court hearing the case against 36 alleged PKK members refused the prosecutor’s request to send the suspects to be tried by a higher criminal court because 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 “Western countries” and sending them for training in Greece and Iraq, the website reported. They are also accused of forging documents and extorting businessmen.
The source, which was not identified, told the website the prosecutor could appeal the lower court’s decision.
Among those standing trial are Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar, said senior members of the PKK’s European organization. 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, according to 7SUR7.
Belgium has been criticized in the past for failing to act against the PKK. In August, supporters in Brussels were allowed to celebrate the anniversary of the terror group’s first attack in 1984 and five months earlier followers had been allowed to set up tents outside EU buildings ahead of a Turkey-EU summit.
Apart from Belgium, the PKK is also active in EU countries such as Germany, Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Greece.