BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: World: Europe  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
From Our Own Correspondent
Letter From America
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Tuesday, 29 June, 1999, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Ocalan sentenced to death
Ocalan listens impassively as he hears his sentence
The Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has been sentenced to death for treason by three Turkish judges.

The verdict came after Ocalan made a final appeal for his life to be spared so that he could work to bring peace to the country.

"I believe that I waged a struggle for the unity of the nation and for a free existence," he said from a bullet-proof glass box in the Imrali Island courtroom.

Dressed in a brown double-breasted suit, the rebel leader appeared calm as the verdict was delivered by chief Judge Turgut Okyay.

As Mr Okyay sentenced Ocalan to hang, the families of Turkish soldiers killed fighting the rebels began singing the national anthem.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said he could not make any comment on the sentence, but said he hoped it would be "auspicious for our nation".

Several European Union governments have already called for the sentence to be commuted, with Britain saying it would press for a statement from the whole European Union against the death penalty.

During the trial, Ocalan had argued that the guilt should be shared by all parties, including the Turkish state.

But the judges held Ocalan responsible for more than 30,000 killings during his movement's 15-year struggle for Kurdish self-rule.

The rebel leader himself did not dispute many of the charges against him, arguing instead that he should escape the death penalty in order to work for peace, which he said only he could deliver.

Kurds take to the streets

After the verdict Pro-Kurdish activists gathered in European cities to protest againt the verdict.

Peaceful demostrations were reported in Cyprus, Russia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France and the UK.

Police authorities across Europe stepped up security amid fears the demonstrations will become violent.

Turkish police were also placed on alert at airports and tourist resorts, and security was tightened at embassies.

The Turkey Justice Ministry has told all prisons to tighten precautions against possible uprisings, as hundreds of members of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) are currently serving terms in Turkish prisons.

Although Turkey has not put a convicted prisoner to death since 1984, there is widespread support in the country for Ocalan's execution.

The BBC's Chris Morris
"Most people believe it's what Mr Ocalan deserves"
The BBC's Chris Morris
"The fate of the rebel leader has mesmerised this country"
The BBC's Chris Morris
"The verdict did not come as a surprise"
The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"Turks celebrate Ocalan's death sentence"
News and background on Abdullah Ocalan

Key stories

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |