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Thursday, February 25, 1999 Published at 23:03 GMT

World: Europe

Ocalan sees lawyers

Lawyers are worried about conditions in which Mr Ocalan is being held

Lawyers for the Kurdish separatist leader, Abdullah Ocalan, have had their first meeting with him since his capture in Kenya last week.

The Ocalan File
It is the only contact the rebel chief has had with the outside world since he was imprisoned on the Turkish prison island Imrali, south of Istanbul.

Mr Ocalan, who has led an armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule in south-east Turkey, is charged with treason and could face the death penalty.

Ankara correspondent Chris Morris : "Authorities trying to shut down main pro-Kurdish party"
The meeting with his lawyers came as Turkey's chief prosecutor called for the main Kurdish party, HADEP, to be banned from the country's elections in April saying it had links to Mr Ocalan's PKK rebel movement.

Attorney General Vural Savas added: "We are receiving serious information that PKK militants have begun threatening our citizens in the south-east, saying 'If you do not vote for HADEP, we will burn your villages down and kill all of you'."

Acting HADEP chairman Osman Ozcelik said the move was part of a wider crackdown on Kurdish dissent.

Questions limited

The two Turkish lawyers representing Mr Ocalan spent 20 minutes with him at his Imrali jail.

Ahmet Okcuoglu and Hatice Korkut, were ferried to the island in the Marmara Sea from Mudanya in northwestern Turkey.

The lawyers were accompanied by a judge from Mudanya, and were only allowed to ask Mr Ocalan about his health.

They were granted permission on Wednesday to visit Imrali, which has been declared a prohibited zone.

Lawyers' bus stoned

Police took heavy security measures around the port as some 200 protesters, carrying Turkish flags, chanted slogans against Mr Ocalan and the PKK. The demonstrators were quickly ordered away by police.

Turkish television showed protesters gathered at the port, hurling stones at the bus carrying the lawyers.

Mr Ocalan was formally placed under arrest by a judge on Imrali on Tuesday, entitling him to immediate access to a lawyer. But the lawyers initially complained they were having difficulty reaching their client.

Safety ensured

The Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, has guaranteed that the lawyers will be allowed to "freely exercise" their duties and their personal safety will be ensured.

Mr Ocalan was captured in Kenya in an undercover operation and brought to Turkey on 16 February.

According to the Turkish press on Thursday, Mr Ocalan has incriminated Greece, Syria, Iran and Germany as financial backers of the PKK in his 36-page confession.

Mr Ocalan is also said to have admitted that the PKK received funds from Greek churches.

In his confession, he reportedly says that he gave orders for a massacre in August 1982, which marked the start of his organisation's attacks.

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