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French court sentences nine Kurds in PKK extortion case

Investigators probed an extortion racket linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) campaign to raise funds

Published: Updated:

A French court on Tuesday sentenced two Kurds to five years in prison and seven others to lesser terms in an extortion case linked to the Kurdish armed group PKK.

Investigators probed an extortion racket linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) campaign to raise funds among the Kurdish diaspora through a so-called revolutionary tax.

Two of the nine Kurds tried in Paris were found to be planning violence against a man who refused to pay. They were handed five year jail terms, while the rest received lighter sentences.

The other terms ranged from 30-month suspended sentences to two years in prison. The judge in the case also noted that the PKK remained on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations.

The case had initially included a probe into an alleged assassination attempt in the southeastern French town of Draguignan in 2012, said to have been foiled due to a heavy police presence at the scene. That aspect of the case was eventually dropped.

At least 40,000 people have been killed on both sides since the PKK formally began its insurgency in 1984 demanding self-rule for Turkey’s Kurds, who make up around 20 percent of the population.

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan called last week for a congress to end the Kurds’ conflict with Turkey. Ankara welcomed his call.