Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 03:40 GMT 04:40 UK
Ocalan urges end to fighting
Ocalan: Held behind bullet-proof glass
The Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has called for an end to the armed struggle by his group, the PKK, on the first day of his trial in Turkey.
Dressed in a jacket and open-necked shirt, he told the court from a special bullet-proof glass cage that he would work to stop the bloodshed.
"You can hang me if you like but let me solve the Kurdish problem first. You cannot do it without me," he said in an off the cuff address which lasted more than an hour.
Facing death penalty
He stands accused of causing the deaths of thousands during the 15-year armed struggle by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
The BBC Turkey correspondent Chris Morris said Mr Ocalan was clearly angling for a deal with the government.
"Hanging is too good for him," said one relative.
This first day set the tone for the whole trial, the prosecution confident that it has a mountain of legal evidence and the accused setting out an overtly political defence.
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.
Heavily-armed troops are maintaining a military exclusion zone around the island; warships and helicopters are also on patrol. During the trial, Mr Ocalan is sitting inside a specially-built bullet-proof glass cage.
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.
The trial has prompted debate in Turkey over military trials.
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.