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Thursday, May 20, 1999 Published at 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK

World: Europe

Death for Kurdish guerrilla

Semdin Sakik (left) and his brother hear their sentence

By Tom Kankkonen in Istanbul

A state security court in Turkey has sentenced a former high-ranking Kurdish guerrilla commander to death.

The Ocalan File
The court in the main Kurdish city of Diyarbakar found Semdin Sakik responsible for the deaths of more than 250 people, both civilians and members of the security forces.

His brother was also given the death sentence.

Semdin Sakik, widely described as a deputy to the Kurdish rebel PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured last year in northern Iraq by Turkish security forces.

He and his brother had fled there after Sakik fell out with Mr Ocalan in a row over tactics.

[ image: Ocalan: Trial begins 31 May]
Ocalan: Trial begins 31 May
The PKK leader was captured in February and is currently awaiting trial on a Turkish prison island.

He is also facing a possible death sentence on treason charges.

In Turkey death penalties have to be ratified by parliament where nationalists have a strong position after last month's elections.

Turkey has not carried out any death sentences since 1984. While courts often hand down the death penalty, it is generally commuted to life imprisonment.

There is however support for the execution of the Kurdish rebel leaders among the Turkish public and also among some politicians.

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