hamas, MIDEAST GAZA ISRAEL WAR,  Ezz Al-Din Al Qassam Brigades, Palestine.jpg
Palestinian fighters of Ezz Al-Din Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, march during a military parade marking the second anniversary of the 50-day war between Israel and Gaza in the summer of 2014, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 21 August 2016.
Photograph: EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

The Islamic militant group Hamas should be removed from the EU list of terrorist organizations, an adviser to the bloc's top court recommended Thursday, agreeing with an earlier finding that procedural errors had been made.

The European Union first included Hamas on its terrorist list in late 2001. The movement, which has had de facto control of the Gaza Strip since 2007, appealed ensuing EU decisions to prolong its listing.

The EU's General Court had ruled in December 2014 that Hamas should be struck off the list, taking issue with the fact that the listing had been based on "factual imputations derived from the press and the internet" rather than acts examined and confirmed by authorities.

But EU governments appealed that ruling to the European Court of Justice. It received advice on the case Thursday from Eleanor Sharpston, one of 10 advocates general who provide legal opinions to the Luxembourg judges.

The top court generally follow these opinions. The final ruling is likely to take several more months.

Sharpston argued that the EU "cannot rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet, rather than in decisions of competent authorities, to support a decision to maintain a listing," the court said in a statement.

She found that the EU's justifications for maintaining the Hamas listing were "not sufficient."

Sharpston also looked at a similar case involving Sri Lanka's separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and there too came to the conclusion that decisions to maintain it on the EU terrorist list should be annulled.

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