NEWS

Ocalan wants to be tried here

Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life term in a remote Turkish prison, wants his trial in Greece to be postponed to allow him to testify, one of his lawyers said yesterday. Ocalan is to be tried for illegally entering Greece in 1999 while he was on the run from Turkish forces. [The trial in Athens is scheduled for Monday, May 26]. «Ocalan wants to testify before Greek justice. From 2000 on, we have started the legal procedure with Turkish authorities to ask for a written deposition,» Hatice Korkut, Ocalan’s lawyer, told a press conference. «But… we haven’t been able to get it due to serious problems we had in communicating with him.» An Athens court postponed Ocalan’s trial on similar grounds on January 8. Ten Greeks and two Kurds are also to stand trial for facilitating Ocalan’s illegal entry into Greece, and face charges of «putting the country’s peace at risk.» While it was hunting down Ocalan, Turkey threatened Syria with war for allegedly sheltering the Kurdish leader, who was captured on February 15, 1999 by a Turkish commando unit in Kenya after leaving the Greek Embassy where he had temporarily found refuge. [Greece’s ministers of foreign affairs, the interior and public order were sacked over the fiasco.] Ocalan is currently being held in a Turkish maximum-security prison on the island of Imrali in the Marmara Sea. A Turkish court had sentenced him to death on high treason charges, but this was commuted to life imprisonment in 2001 after Turkey abolished capital punishment as part of reforms to bring the country into line with norms of the European Union, which Turkey has applied to join. In March, Europe’s top human rights court condemned Turkey for failing to give Ocalan a fair trial. (AFP)