Monday, May 31, 1999 Published at 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Ocalan faces Turkish justice
Abdullah Ocalan pleads for his life in a Turkish military court
The trial of the Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has begun on the heavily-guarded prison island of Imrali.
In excerpts from the trial shown on state-run television, Mr Ocalan told the court: "I share the grief of the families of the martyrs, and I promise here that from now on I will work for the establishment of peace.''
The hearing began after the court rejected a request by Mr Ocalan's lawyers to adjourn the trial. They say they have been hampered in preparing his defence.
Heavy security around Imrali island
Security has been intensified on and around Imrali island, which lies in the Sea of Marmara, 70km south of Istanbul. Mr Ocalan is the only inmate at the prison.
Mr Ocalan's arrest and trial has polarised opinion in Turkey.
His supporters were outraged when he was captured in February and brought back to Turkey under restraints. There were angry Kurdish protests in cities across the world.
There have been many demonstrations calling for his execution, especially by families who have lost relatives in the violence.
Mr Ocalan's lawyers have complained that they have been denied proper access to their client, and that they themselves have been beaten by police.
He says his client will not get a fair trial, and that he does not want Mr Ocalan's death on his conscience.
Mr Ocalan's lawyers are contesting a comprehensive 139-page indictment.
They say they will argue that, if their client is executed, the war between the Turkish government and the PKK, which has already claimed 37,000 lives, will only escalate.
Questions over military justice
The trial has prompted debate in Turkey over military trials. The Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, has said he wants to do away with the military presence in the judicial process.
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.