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Tuesday, February 16, 1999 Published at 19:07 GMT

World: Europe

A fair trial for Ocalan?

The capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has provoked jubilation in Turkey where he has been public enemy number one for more than two decades.

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But his supporters have been outraged by the Turkish action and by western indifference, storming European embassies.

If found guilty the Kurdish leader faces a death sentence and there are already deep concerns about what sort of trial he will receive.

How will western countries, which have been critical of the country's justice system in the past, react?

What you've said so far

"Turkish justice will determine his fate - freedom or imprisonment. I doubt international politics would allow his execution." Grant, Canada

"At last we have him. He deserves what he gets!!" Sevda, Turkey

Nothing towards the Kurds is fair in Turkey. Sultan Mehrabi, California

More of your comments

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Your comments

Of course he will not have a fair trial, he is going to be executed sooner or later amid the condemnation of world leaders stirring up the Kurds for their lost figurehead. Indeed I strongly believe that the Kurds have the right to have a homeland. But killing innocent people is something nasty no matter how noble your motives were. After all the end does not justify the means!
Shaaban, Hong Kong

No he can't possibly have a fair trial in Turkey and I think no one sets themselves on fire as a protest without good reason.
Muge, UK

I believe Turkish Republic will do its best for this PKK leader. Thanks to Turkey for dealing with the world's problem about unlawful use of force and violence of PKK, while the world comes towards 21st Century. We believe the violence will stop someday. The whole world should help Turkey in this manner.
Mary Smirh, USA

He will not get a fair trial in Turkey. They will use him for all intensive purposes and when they have nothing more to gain from his imprisonment they will execute him. I don't believe the words Turkish Government & Fairness can ever be used in connection with each other.
M.T. Paradise, Greece

For the British, George Washington was a terrorist. For the Nazis, all resistance fighters were terrorists. It's easy to accuse someone when you never fought for freedom, or even worse, when you have forgotten your own struggle for freedom.
Panagiotis Kanavos, Greece

Yes, he will get a fair trial. A fair trial with the Turkish legislation: the chair.
Gunay, Holland

Whether he gets fair trial or not is hardly the point. What needs to be discussed and acted upon is how to deal with the Kurdish question. The Turks have really failed in their aim of covering up something they don't want to deal with. But they have a simmering civil war ready to boil over at any time costing their economy billions. When will they see the light and stop treating the Kurds as some kind of pariahs within their country?
Jordi, Spain

YES, Even without trial, I could tell he is guilty. I condemn terrorism.
Mark Ercilasun, USA

The need for a Kurdish homeland is very real. Turkey and Iraq should create a Kurdish homeland and settle this issue, once and for all.
Zafar Daud, USA

No he cannot possibly have a fair trial in Turkey. The world is busy giving Libya all sorts of assurances regarding the Lockerbie trial but the leader of 20+ million homeless people is somehow expected to be tried "fairly" by his enemy.
Laura Osman

Good for the Turks on getting hold of that monster!!!
Mark Shafer, USA

I don't even think we can even discuss whether or not he will receive a fair trial. The man was dead from the moment he fell into Turkish hands. The brutality we have seen in Turkeys history shows us this. I do believe that Kurds deserve a homeland. I don't agree with the methods the PKK has gone about to try and achieve this goal. Greece's role in this really disappoints me, fortunately the people in charge of this decision were forced to resign.
Karagiannis, USA

He will never get a fair trial from Turkey. Kurds suffered enough from the occupiers of their homeland by Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. It is a matter of shame for the so-called champions of Democracy in the free world that they are deliberately shutting their eyes from the suffering of such a huge number of the people. Shame on you US, UK France and others in the West.
Mateen Abbas, Australia

Let's remember that a person who is considered a freedom fighter by some, is a terrorist for others. We have been witnessing this contradiction of terms in many places, from Afghanistan and Chechnya to Bosnia and Palestine. The present situation in the areas traditionally inhabited by the Kurds is a road to nowhere. A political solution to the Kurdish question must be found which would reflect the values protected under the UN Charter for more than half a century.
Nickolas Presho, Canada

Countries who wanted nothing to do with 'Apo' should not be so quick to warn the Turkish government about ensuring a fair trial. If they are so worried, then why didn't they take the bull by the horns when they (namely Italy) had the chance?? It is very easy for them to criticise now that the problem is not sitting on their own doorstep.
Amanda, Turkey

It is difficult to have a great deal of faith in the Turkish system of justice. Turkey has hardly been a country of open, accountable justice. I don't hold out high hopes for a different outcome this time.
Kerri Kellett, Australia

He won't get a fair trial in Turkey. He should be brought to justice in international court not in Turkey.
P.Pradhan, Germany

Europe = Hypocrites = EEC Governments which are GOVERNED by big enterprises and NOTHING else. And 'JUSTICE' can be only as fair as the dictatorship it belongs to allows it to be.
Dimitri, Greece

Turks are well known for their brutality through out the history. Tony Benn's comment few days ago during mass demonstration in London was absolutely correct and valid. Kurds deserve a homeland with an independent country of their own. There are around 23 million of them with a language and culture of there own.
Vazrik Bandarian, Australia

Why is everybody preaching Turkey for fairness and kept quite for unfairness and politician determined pre-empted legal system of Italy and Germany?
Nazim, London

I feel very sad for him and all kurds. No, he'll not have a fair trial and the so called civilised world should move.
Diana Moukalled, Beirut, Lebanon

Yes, we should trust to Turkish justice, but we should never forget that Turkish justice should consider this man is responsible of the death of more than 30.000 people(babies, soldiers, children, doctors and teachers). And some countries in Europe has shown already their weakness about Apo like Germany, so they don't have right to tell how to implement the law that they didn't do in their own country.
Oermen, Basel Prejudice, non of you have been to Turkey and have not seen how the ethnics live side by side, Armenians, Greeks, Abhasians, Kurds. Our previous president was a Kurdish man, also the president Grand National Assembly now. You always blame Turkey, all watched the shame in Bosnia but rushed to Iraq for petrol. This is your human rights. No prejudice, it will be a fair trial according to Turkish Law which is adopted from Swiss Law . Civilised enough ?
Ibrahim, London

Whilst generally sympathetic to genuine political refugees being allowed to enter the UK, if any of the Kurds who have behaved so badly in the London embassy "siege", of the last few days, are found to be refugees in the UK, then their status should be removed and they should be deported. However badly the Kurds may have been treated in Turkey, or Iraq for that matter, it does not justify that sort of behaviour in a country that has given them a safe haven
Mark Cooke, UK

I fear that they will kill the Kurdish leader if the European countries don`t do anything in their power to assure that Öcalan will get a fare trial. But to think that the Kurdish question is over is to overreact in fact it has just began.
Serdar Karavelli, Sweden

Turkey is the best example for dictatorism... How can Mr. Ocalan get a fair trial??!!!
Allen Robertto, U.S.A

It's a shame that Greece took a very serious part in terrorist activities of PKK and clearly became an accomplice to the crimes committed. Who ruins the chances of having good neighbourly relations with Turkey has become even clearer.
Gavrilidis, S. Africa

He is the responsible man for 30 000 death people. And also he does not represent whole Kurdish people. If he gets life sentence which is possible then it doesn't mean that he would not have a fair trial.
Roger Saunders, England Why do you ask this question in the first place? Trial has not even started. Don't you see your prejudice.
Selcuk, USA

It will be truly ironic if the Western nations jump to the defence of Öcalan now that he's in Turkish custody. The West had plenty of chances to try him on their own terms - the Netherlands, home of the war crimes tribunal, was one of the last places to refuse him entry before he fled to Africa. Whether he receives a fair trial has yet to be seen. However, since the crimes he perpetrated took place in Turkey, I think it is more than appropriate that he is tried in a Turkish court.
Brian Sullivan, California, USA

I don't see how a trial in Turkey could ever be impartial and fair. Who in Turkey could honestly say they don't have an opinion on him and the Kurds?
Troy, Colorado

Of course. Turkey is more modern than many of European countries in legal system. Turkey wouldn't step back to put anyone on trial like Italy or Germany had done. Remember, Germany was afraid of taking him back from Italians giving the excuse for the stability of its social order. No country obstructing justice has the right to judge Turkey.
Cumhur Can, USA

The only hope of a fair trial and the avoidance of more problems is to have the EU force an open public Trial.
Geoff, London, UK

Hopefully it is at last understood that PKK has nothing to do with Kurds, as can and will be seen every day on TV. Kurdish rights have been defended in the way we witness in the embassies since 1984. Keeping this in mind, the countries being the cradle of democracy might be expected to have a better idea about a fair trial.
Ata, Istanbul

The people who sympathise with the terrorist group are saying that Turkey oppresses her Kurdish population. What a misleading argument.... In our country, there are a lot of ethnic groups who are the citizens of the Republic of Turkey. We are all proud of being citizens of Turkey. My father immigrated from Greece after our Independence War. Do you know anything about our Independence War? The area you call Kurdistan was the land of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Now it is the land of Turkish citizens. Enough is enough, we don't want to see any more mothers crying after their losses, because of terrorism. I want to go on living with my Kurdish neighbours in peace.
Mehtap Tamer, UK

After having served two years in the Turkish army and seen many things that cannot even be thought about, I believe that the man responsible for all the heartache in Turkey for the past two decades has finally been brought home for trial. Over the past month or so, the Europeans have failed to try him in their own courts for fear of terrorist attacks upon their own country and people alike. So now that we (Turkey) has got him once and for all, Europe cannot even think about telling Turkey what kind of trial he should have. Europe failed and Turkey has triumphed. I hope that 16th February will now be hailed as the day that the killer of over 29,000 people has been caught and will face trial as a national symbol. I am very sure that the mothers and fathers who lost their own children in this bloody battle would love to see something like this on the national calendar.
I had a very close friend who died in my arms because of the bullet he took while fighting in the army. I knew this person for more than 15 years and we were like brothers. So, no one can tell me that they do not know what they are talking about, or that I don't know how it feels to lose someone. I lost a friend, I lost a brother, I lost a fellow countryman, but I will never lose Turkey.
Cenk, UK

Yes, of course. In fact, the so-called civilised nations of Europe that have abused the Kurdish question and basic principles of fairness, justice, and the law for their vested interests, will learn from the Turkish justice system that these concepts have a universal meaning that serve the whole of the humankind.
Huseyin Tanriverdi, US

How can we expect a fair trial in a country that has produced the main 'terrorists' in the area? How can you expect a fair trial in the country that carried out genocide again Kurds? How can you expect a fair trial in a country where people representing Amnesty International are shot? How can you expect a fair trial in a country that attacked Cyprus in 1974 and still occupies 33% of the island? How can you expect a fair trial in a country where democracy is something unknown? I am sure that the trial is going to be a bad joke.
Poikin, Greece

If you were so keen for a 'fair' trial why didn't you accept him in Europe?
Meram, Turkey

Those who criticise Turkey's justice system should remember that Western countries who have respect for human rights have had chances to try the chieftain of an outlawed terrorist organisation fairly! Instead one of them denied the arrest warrant they issued, another entertained him in a villa and provided a private plane to fly away, and yet another gave him shelter and even a diplomatic passport. He will be tried in Turkey according to the current constitution and laws which have been in force for many years, all of which have been published. He will be tried just like any other accused in Turkey. Those who are not happy with the current justice system and practices in Turkey should not take the risk. Simple as that.
M Dorak, Wales

If he is to be tried for treason let him be brought to court in undamaged condition with the legal representation any criminal is entitled to. No matter who his lawyers are, if he is guilty nothing will make him innocent.
What Turkey is afraid of is that outsiders will see how the trial is carried out which would force them not to carry out the trial the way they would like.
Hazel Brewer, UK

When I was a soldier for the Turkish army, I fought with the PKK terrorists. During this time I saw how they carry out sudden attacks on innocent villages. I saw babies killed from a shot to the head while they were sleeping. And the reality is that these babies are Kurdish. So Apo has no relation with defending the Kurdish truth. Apo does not need a free trial, his punishment is clear, the death penalty. And no one can judge our justice system as we do not judge yours.
Ahmet Sezer, Turkey

It will be a fair trial unless the Western human right defenders (!?) for Turkey do not intervene. Don't forget, we are talking about a person who is responsible for more than 29,000 deaths. So obviously no punishment will be fair enough since nobody asked about the fairness of the murders of those tens of thousands of innocent people. Please think about the victims' rights before thinking about the murderers' rights.
Mustafa, Turkey

Yes, he will get a fair trial.
But I am quite sure that this will be not enough for some European countries that supported him by turning a blind eye, supporting him financially and logistically while he was killing the innocent and building his empire on blood and drugs, the drugs which were mostly consumed by the children of the same Europeans.
Can you ask a question of yourselves, as to why this terror campaign is not happening in any other country where the Kurdish community lives? Is it because they are living in a total democracy in these countries? Or is it simply some zealous countries trying to destabilise Turkey using all these forces available.
I am 50 years old and never looked to any other citizen of my country with racial prejudice and never will do. We might be from different races or cultures or whatever but we are Turkish citizens and we are all EQUAL.
Mehmet Nuri Senocak, Saudi Arabia

History is full of outsiders using fringe elements to divide and conquer nations. The PKK, supported by some of the most anti-democratic and anti-human-right states on Earth (ie. Irak and Syria) cannot possibly stand for anything genuine and civilized, let alone human rights and democracy. Futhermore, countries that did nothing for the Kurd or the Turk at any time in the past, should also keep quite today. Last but not least, countries such as Greece, where even religious and cultural freedom are brutally denied to its Turkish and other minorities, should advise it's nationals to keep quite as well. The last thing anybody needs are hypocrites.
Basat Tayfun, USA

He should get a fair trial and be punished if found guilty. However, it is doubtful that his trial will be fair, given the dubious record Turkey has in those matters. I might be wrong but if their record and intentions are as civilised as they claim them to be, why do the Turkish refuse entry to lawyers seeking to represent him, or why will they refuse it to independent GPs sent to check whether he was tortured or not?
If they behaved fairly the Turkish government would have the chance to prove that they are a part of Europe - as things appear, they will only prove their close affiliation with the most brutal of history's regimes. Yet unless they treat Ocalan fairly, they will have no claims whatsoever against those in Europe who want them out - everyone who claims Turkey's unsuitability on civilised and cultural grounds will be vindicated.
Aine Coogan, UK

In a country where freedom of speech is the enemy of the state, where writers and journalists are imprisoned for the expression of their beliefs, it is unthinkable that there will be a fair trial for the real enemy of the state, who is fighting to take a part of it away. But there's an hypocrisy for the rest of the world that keeps the most populous ethnic group, the Kurds without a state, under inhumane conditions not only in Turkey, but also in Iraq.
Costas Betinakis, Greece

I personally think, there should be an effort to understand the reasons behind the Kurd's outrage. They are people who lived dispersed throughout three major countries: Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Their needs should be considered, no matter what, after all they are the people of the land they live on. Meanwhile, I hope that Ocalan will not get the death penalty as a political figure and a group leader. I believe such an action would only make things worse than they are. In addition, we should not believe any promises given for a fair trial. There should be some kind of international committee to look into the Ocalan trial.
Nabil, USA

A terrorist who did not fight a fair fight does not deserve a fair trial. Turkey could have killed him long ago, but chose to bring him to justice. Turkey has a longer and deeper democratic history than many of the European countries who have nothing to say about fairness with their sack filled with prejudices, exploitations, imperialism and racism.
Gokhan Ozum, USA

Kurds have always been denied their right. Turkey has brutalised Kurds. The whole world should be concerned about the pre-trial treatment of this prisoner. The Turks will definitely torture him, drug him and make video tape of him recanting his cause. Kurds are not a minority. They are a nation and a race that should be able to speak in their own language. In the past Kurds have paid heavy prices and been oppressed and suppressed by Iraq, Iran Turkey and Syria. And now the symbol of their struggle will be tortured and God knows what Turkey will do to him.... It is the duty of every free man to ensure that the Turks treat him right and he is entitled to a fair trial. They have already denied his lawyers entry into Turkey. What else we can say about the Turkish justice system?
Fred Carpenter, USA

As long as the deaths of millions of Armenians stand unrecognised by the Turkish authorities, the Turkish people HAVE to expect people to hold doubts about their ability to hold a fair trial.
Marc, England

All the comments I read in this column show how world nations are prejudiced against Turkey. I am of Kurd origin and a Turkish citizen living in Turkey, proud of living in this country. My uncle is the leader of a political party in Turkey and serving the Turkish community, which consists of Turks, Kurds, Armenians and many other ethnic groups. In recent years I felt ashamed of saying I am a Kurd just because of the bad results of PKK propaganda and the bloody scene created by the terrorist organisation. I can't understand how a bloody murderer of 30,000 innocent people - his own people - can be regarded as a freedom fighter. Of course, he will have a fair trial just as any other serial killer deserves in any civilised country. I don't understand the double standard while western countries talk about human rights. Didn't a few-month old Kurdish babies killed by the followers of this so-called leader have a right to survive!
Helin, Turkey

Turkish population is composed of a lot of ethnic groups just like US. However through out history, there has never been discrimination among the ethnic groups. Terrorist, so called "Apo", is called to fight for freedom. What freedom?? Kurdish people have exactly the same freedom as I have as a member of "Laz" population. Most of the executive level managers are from the members of the Kurdish population. They have the same opportunities as anyone else in Turkiye. Fighting for freedom can never be an explanation for what "Apo" terrorist had done. It has been only 2 days since Europe met with PKK, attacking the Greece Embassies. I believe non of you can tolerate these actions in your home land and if world defends terrorists like Apo be sure that same things will happen in your country.
Cenk, Turkey

"If you kill one you are a killer, if you kill millions you are hero". And I am afraid Turkey will not permit this to happen... He will get what he deserves...
Levent, UK

Turkish justice has the chance to unite the people of Turkey, by a fair and a fatherly attitude. By the way, a nation's justice can not be judged by other countries in anyway.
Gurkan, Turkey

I wonder if the innocent people killed by PKK under the commands of Öcalan had a fair trail. I wonder if the 5 years old boy killed in a bomb attack by PKK 6 or 7 months ago in Istanbul had a fair trial. Same is true for hundreds of women, children, teachers etc. Did they have a fair trial for execution?
Cem, Turkey

He should not be given the death sentence. He is a political leader, has a great following, and this should be respected. He would not be classified as a "thug", but a leader of an unrecognised country.
Paul Wilson, USA

I fear that in the West we sometimes uphold the criminal's human rights more vigorously than those of the victim. The trial will not be fair if the West intervenes to the extent that the outcome is effected.
Roger Harris, UK

Enough of this prejudice against Turkey, everybody's criticising us of bad human rights record and injustice. Turkey did what he had to do and this guy will face trial in Turkey whether his sympathisers like it or not. Those ignorant people who are trying to show him as a freedom fighter are a minority even among Kurds themselves. Most of the people whom you see protesting throughout Europe are there not because they are not allowed to speak Kurdish or that they can not enjoy their ethnic entity but simply because of economic reasons. It's the same story even in Turkey as most Kurds choose to move to the western parts of the country to find better living conditions.
Osman Bosna, Turkey

How can we expect a country that has yet to acknowledge its guilt for the genocide of more than 4 million Armenians and Greeks (and Kurds) this century be trusted to conduct a fair trial of a freedom fighter? Shame on Greece and Kenya for bowing to American/CIA machinations. Pity the Kurds who will die because of that action.
Dino Palubas, UK

I think he must have a fair trail. Otherwise people who have lost their relatives because of his bloody activities will be extremely disappointed.
Sait, USA

I am a Kurd, who is happy and content to hold Turkish passport and heritage. Not every poor Turk does take up arm against the state. Kurdish nationalism is just as bad as any other form it assumes. When will bigots remember that Kurds and Turks lived side by side without problem for the last millennium. Do we also need to occupy an embassy to make our numbers known?
Savas, Scotland

Is there any reasonable penalty for a man who kills 37,000 civilian people in the region?
Serhat Mutis, California

What exactly are we talking about when we say a "fair trial"? So, if it ends up that he is subjected to death penalty, that will be counted as an unfair trial and will be blamed on Turkish justice system? But realistically, what would be a fair punishment for someone that has caused the deaths of 30 thousand people - most of whom were civilians? One thing nobody seems to pay attention is that violence and terror are not the ways to deal with oppression and this is how this man dealt with problems and most likely he will be punished in that same manner!
Sanuber, USA

Execution of Oclan and denying Kurdish rights will not calm down the Kurdish issue. Turkey should recognize their right at least of self rule, remember that ignoring their right is the reason which erupted the violence which caused pain to innocent Turkish citizens.
Dawod Abu Baker, Palestine

Yes, he will have a fair trial.
Basem Abdulaziz, Jordan

That great leader does not deserve to be tortured or killed just because he is asking for the human right for his nation. I think that all the western world would act better toward him if that would go with their benefits.
Lanja, USA

Having a fair trial in Turkey sounds like a joke. As a Greek, I feel the deepest shame for my government and my country's politicians.
Vasilis Kouroumalis, Crete

I am a Kurdish girl live in USA. We will never give up for our leader and we will struggle more and more in all over the world and especially in Turkey until we get our land back and our rights from Turkey. This is the idea of most Kurdish people.
Roshin, USA

Terrorists should be punished , no matter what they claim to be fighting for.
Murat Akbay, USA

I know finally what happened to Freedom Fighters. I belong to Tamil community, where do we have same situation going in Sri Lanka. We Tamils are fighting for our independence. I was shocked, cried once I read the news about his arrest. It made me one of them. Only suffering people can understand others' sufferings. UN should do something about protecting the leader of Kurdish people. My dear Kurdish, Do not drop out your hope, Your leader created many of you!
Raj Subramaniam, Canada

Bravo! In the heart of some of the toughest real estate on the face of the earth, the Turkish committment to democracy and justice presses forward.
Mark Thompson, USA

I am a Kurdish origined Turkish citizen. Over the years we have suffered from the terrorist organization PKK. I am happy that Apo is going to face a trial. I am sure it will be a fair trial if Europe and PKK do not disturb it. I also believe he deserves a death penalty simply because he has caused the deaths of thousands of our brothers and sisters. So long APO ...
Anzar Kavari, Turkey

It will be a fair trial. European countries will feel shame about their prejudices on Turkish Justice.
Osman, North Cyprus

I would like to ask why are you so concerned abut fair justice for this person - which he will have an objective justice anyway. I am wondering will the American Indians have justice at all some time? Has anyone else interested in some real humanity to ask this question? There is something else behind this interest and we the Turks know this very well.
Timur Akseki, Turkey

One of the last things that I expect to see in this world is a fair trial by the Turkish judicial system and especially for a man who is considered the country's most wanted man for the last twodecades. The most important thing though is for the EU to realize how crucial is, even for its own existence, problems like the Kurdish one, and play an active role in this case.
Manos Makrakis, USA

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