clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ocalan must die, Turkey says
Kurds vow reprisals if leader is executed

IMRALI ISLAND, Turkey -- Turkish prosecutors demanded the death sentence Tuesday for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in closing arguments at his treason trial.

Ignoring a warning by Kurdish rebels -- who have threatened to intensify their attacks if Ocalan is sentenced to die -- prosecutors said the rebel leader should hang for leading a 15-year war for autonomy that has killed 37,000 people.Prosecutor Cevdet Volkan told the court Ocalan has admitted responsibility "for all actions of the terrorist organization" and "causing more deaths than he is accused of."

"With the aim of establishing an independent state on Turkish territory, (Ocalan) formed and led the armed gang . . . which carried out thousands of terrorist attacks, ruthlessly killed tens of thousands of people and left as many disabled," Volkan said.

The court then adjourned for 15 days to give Ocalan's lawyers time to prepare for their final arguments. The lawyers had said they would ask for a month to read the 16,000 pages of evidence against him.

Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party said Monday that it would be "suicide for the Turkish state" if their leader is executed.

"All forms of struggle to defend the national honor, pride and cause of the Kurdish people would then be legitimate," the rebels said in a printed statement.

Ocalan's trial resumed Tuesday after a three-day recess. Throughout his trial last week, Ocalan said if he is spared execution he would work for peace between his rebels and Turkey.

But Tuesday Volkan dismissed Ocalan's call for peace as "insincere."

Turkey has ruled out any talks with rebel Kurds despite a series of peace offers from Ocalan. The state has repeatedly labeled Ocalan's fighters, who are demanding autonomy in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast, as terrorists.

Ocalan is widely expected to be convicted and sentenced to death. If the punishment is endorsed by parliament, he would be the first person hanged in Turkey since 1984.

Kurdish rebels have staged sporadic attacks during the trial that began last week.

Turkish troops killed seven rebels in clashes in the southeastern province of Siirt, the Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday. It was not clear when the fighting took place.

Ocalan has been standing trial in a bulletproof, bombproof cabin inside a theater on the prison island of Imrali, where he is the only inmate.

Throughout the trial, relatives of Turkish soldiers and police who died fighting the rebels have watched the proceedings. The wife of a slain paramilitary police officer appeared at the trial Tuesday wearing her husband's camouflage uniform.