Ocalan trial opens today

Nearly four years after the Abdullah Ocalan fiasco ended with Turkish agents abducting the Kurdish separatist leader from the Greek Embassy residence in Nairobi, 12 people are to stand trial in Athens today for smuggling Turkey’s most wanted man into Greece. The affair, in late January and February 1999, led to the dismissal of Greece’s ministers for foreign affairs, interior and public order. Three of the suspects, retired navy Commodore Antonis Naxakis and two of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader’s female aides, Turkish nationals Yakar Cedkiz and Kaya Ayfer, face criminal charges for «exposing the Greek State to the threat of armed conflict» by allegedly organizing Ocalan’s clandestine entry, through the Corfu airport. Another seven people – two police airport guards, the pilot of the plane that flew Ocalan to Corfu, airport and airline officials – are accused of complicity, while two women will be tried for sheltering Ocalan in their Nea Makri home. Ocalan, currently in a Turkish top-security jail, will be tried in absentia for illegally entering Greece.

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