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European Court of Justice Legal challenge begins into PKK's status as a terrorist organisation

THE European Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to rule on the Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) status as a terrorist organisation in what could be a landmark case.

A hearing opened in Luxembourg today on a case brought by the Netherlands-based Prakken d’Oliveira Law Office seeking the removal of the PKK from the European Union’s list of terrorist organisations.

Lawyers acting on behalf of PKK leaders Murat Karayılan and Duran Kalkan say that the organisation’s listing is an “unfair and political decision” made at the request of the Turkish government, which has been engaged in a decades-long war with the group.

The PKK has been on the EU list of terrorist organisations since 2002.

Ahead of the hearing, lawyer Mahmut Sakar said: “The European Union Council, the European Commission and Britain have been involved in the case to keep the PKK on the list. In fact, countries like the UK have been acting almost on behalf of Turkey to keep the PKK on this list.”

Mr Sakar said lawyers would remind the ECJ of the Belgian court ruling in September stating that the PKK is not a terrorist organisation as there is an ongoing war in the country.

The decision, hailed as “unprecedented” and which Kurds hoped would lead to a change in EU relations, was overturned on appeal in February, however.

Zubeyir Aydar, a member of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union, an umbrella organisation of Kurdish political parties, said that Kurds had a right to defend themselves in a “34-year war” in which he claimed Turkey has used tanks, planes and even chemical weapons. “We want the court to confirm this,” he said.

The court will announce its decision at a later date.

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