A Kurdish man wanted by German authorities on terrorism-related charges won’t be extradited, following a decision by a Larnaca court that found political beliefs were behind the persecution.
Cerkez Korkmaz, who was arrested on March 21 at Larnaca International Airport based on an international arrest warrant issued by German authorities, defeated his extradition on Friday in a Larnaca courtroom.
Larnaca judge Michalis Charalambous rejected the extradition request, with the audience in the courtroom bursting into wild applause. Reports said dozens of supporters, including Greek Cypriots, Kurds living in Cyprus, and Kurdish activists, embraced Korkmaz.
Korkmaz thanked the justice system of the Republic of Cyprus, adding that his personal ordeal helped bring Cypriots and Kurds closer together
Korkmaz, who made bail last month, had maintained throughout the trial that he was being persecuted due to his political activism while he rejected allegations of his involvement in terrorism.
In his initial statement following the decision, he thanked the justice system of the Republic of Cyprus and Cypriot people, adding that his personal ordeal helped bring Cypriots and Kurds closer together.
The warrant was issued in connection with crimes allegedly committed in Germany between 2013 and 2015, with the suspect being accused of being a member of PKK, a leftist group formed in the late 1970’s that was subsequently placed on the terrorist list almost two decades ago.
The defence had argued successfully that an initial warrant by German authorities was invalid because it was issued at the state level. A second warrant signed by federal prosecutors was then issued and Korkmaz was released on bail.