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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK

World: Europe

Ocalan: Greeks supplied Kurdish rebels

Ocalan denied involvement in Palme killing

The Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has said that his organisation, the PKK, received support from several countries in the past, including Greece, Syria and Iran.

The Ocalan File
Mr Ocalan, speaking on the second day of his trial on charges of causing the deaths of thousands during the 15-year armed struggle of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), reportedly said that contacts in Greece had helped to procure surface-to-air missiles for the PKK.

He was replying to questions from a panel of three judges, one of them a military judge.

Mr Ocalan is Turkey's most notorious criminal suspect and faces the death penalty for treason and murder.

Ocalan denies attacks

The BBC's Chris Morris: Less of a trial, more of a political debate
Mr Ocalan denied that he ordered killing of 33 unarmed Turkish soldiers in the south-eastern province of Bingol in 1993.

He said that the attack, which ended a PKK ceasefire, had been carried out by renegade fighters, acting without his authority.

He also said that his organisation played no part in the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme in 1986. Palme was killed in a Stockholm street while walking home from the cinema with his wife. No-one was ever brought to trial for his murder.

Heavy security

The trial opened on Monday, amid tight security. Only a few people have been allowed to observe the trial, on Imrali island in the Sea of Marmura, 70km south of Istanbul.

[ image: A Turkish woman holds a picture of her son, killed by the PKK]
A Turkish woman holds a picture of her son, killed by the PKK
The proceedings are being broadcast on Turkish state television, the only station allowed to broadcast direct from the island.

On the opening day of his trial, Mr Ocalan made what he called an historic appeal for peace. He said the fighting should stop and that he did not want separatism for the Kurds, but democracy.

"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.

Turkish newspapers reacted with incredulity to Mr Ocalan's offer. "It's too late," read one headline. "Apology and threat!" said another.

It was the first time that Mr Ocalan had called for an end to the guerrilla campaign.

Kurds protest

The opening of the trial was marked by Kurdish demonstrations in Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Finland and Denmark.

A PKK spokeswoman in Brussels said it was premature to comment on Ocalan's offer to end the movement's armed struggle.

Chris Morris, the BBC's Ankara correspondent, says Ocalan has threatened a massive backlash if he sentenced to death. But if he criticises his former allies too much, he risks alienating his own supporters during the trial.

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