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Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK

World: Europe

Ocalan lawyers boycott trial

Lawyers say guards meant to protect them ignore attacks

Lawyers defending Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan against treason charges boycotted his trial on Thursday, after being thrown out of their hotel the day before.

The Ocalan File
The lawyers returned to Istanbul, saying they were unable to return to the prison island of Imrali, where the trial is taking place, because no hotel in the area would allow them to stay.

"Since they have no personal security, they are not going today...but they will go tomorrow," a spokesman for the lawyers said.

The defence team said they and relatives of Mr Ocalan had been staying in the nearby city of Bursa but had been forced to leave their hotel after the owner received death threats.

[ image: Defence team had been asked to present final argument]
Defence team had been asked to present final argument
"Facing attacks from a nationalist inspired crowd outside their hotel under the eyes of police, the attorneys and the family members of Mr Ocalan were forced to leave Bursa in a hurry," the lawyers said in a statement.

The court had asked both legal teams to begin wrapping up their cases on Thursday so that the three judges hearing the trial could come to a judgement next week.

Threats and tears

The trial began on Monday, and it has been an eventful three days of hearings.

The Kurdish leader offered to abandon the armed struggle, but he warned the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which he leads, could escalate the struggle in which tens of thousands have died since 1985.

Relatives of the victims of PKK attacks have also confronted Mr Ocalan in highly-charged exchanges, moving many in court, including one judge, to tears.


[ image: There were harrowing tails from victims of PKK violence]
There were harrowing tails from victims of PKK violence
Mr Ocalan's lawyers have made several complaints before about official obstruction and police harassmented.

Before the trial started, they said they were being denied proper access to their client.

And last month, after a hearing in Ankara, they alleged the police detachment that was supposed to protect them had in fact taken them to a remote location and beaten them.

One prominent lawyer, Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu, has already withdrawn from the team, claiming his client would not get a fair trial.

Mr Ocalan is charged with treason and faces the death sentence if convicted. He has been held on Imrali island since shortly after his capture in Kenya in February.

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