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Sunday, May 30, 1999 Published at 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK

World: Europe

Ocalan lawyers seek adjournment

The banner describes Mr Ocalan as "a murderer of children"

Lawyers representing the imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, say they have not been allowed to prepare a proper defence and will seek an adjournment when the trial opens on Monday.

The Ocalan File
The lawyers say they have only just received all the relevant court documents.

They have complained in the past of being refused proper access to Mr Ocalan, and of being beaten by police.

Chris Morris in Turkey: Revenge is now in the air
"We applied on countless occasions to the authorities to put an end to these legal abuses, however the obstacles and attacks against us have not abated," says lawyer Ercan Karan.

"We want all obstacles to the defence to be lifted."

[ image: Lawyer Ercan Karan says his team has been attacked]
Lawyer Ercan Karan says his team has been attacked
The lawyers also want a military judge to be removed from hearing the case.

Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has also said that he wants to do away with the military presence in the judicial process.

He and other leading politicians have acknowledged that the country is open to international criticism unless the court is restructured.

Prison island

Mr Ocalan will appear in court on Monday on the heavily-guarded prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara.

He is charged with treason and faces the death penalty if convicted.

[ image: Mr Ocalan's capture sparked worldwide Kurdish protests]
Mr Ocalan's capture sparked worldwide Kurdish protests
Mr Ocalan's defence will argue for an acquittal and say that if their client is executed, the war with Kurdish guerrillas, which has already claimed 37,000 lives, will only escalate.

At present Mr Ocalan's case will be heard by one military and two civilian judges. BBC Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris says the security court system falls short of international legal standards.

The European Court for Human Rights has repeatedly stressed that civilians should not be tried by a serving military officer because it undermines the independence of the court process.

Now the Turkish Justice Ministry has prepared draft laws on legal reform to demilitarise Mr Ocalan's trial.

Ultimately though it will be up to the judges themselves to decide whether the case should go ahead on schedule or be delayed.

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