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Tuesday, July 6, 1999 Published at 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK

World: Europe

Kurd leader fights death sentence

Appeal: Abdullah Ocalan has called for an end to revenge attacks

Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has formally applied to appeal against his death sentence.

His lawyers made a request to the Appeals Court in the Turkish capital Ankara.

The Ocalan File
The move was a symbolic one, since all death sentences are automatically appealed.

It was not clear when the court would review the case. If upheld, the verdict would have to be endorsed by both parliament and President Suleyman Demirel.

Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was sentenced to death for treason and separatism on 29 June.

European opposition

There is widespread public pressure in Turkey to hang Ocalan, the man most Turks hold responsible for the death of some 30,000 people during his rebels' 15-year war for Kurdish autonomy.

But there is strong opposition to the death penalty in Europe and many newspapers have been questioning whether it would be in Turkey's best interest to hang Ocalan. Turkey has been pressing to join the European Union.

However, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit warned on Friday that Turkey, which has not executed anyone since 1984, would not be swayed by outside pressure.

He said: "A procedure will follow in accordance with our conscience, our evaluations and Turkey's needs."

'Suicide' bomber

The sentence has sparked a wave of violence and protests by Ocalan's followers.

A suspected rebel suicide bomber reportedly killed herself and injured 14 others on Monday when she detonated explosives she carried outside a police station in the southern city of Adana.

In another incident Turkish officials said guerrillas planted a bomb in a rubbish bin in a picnic park in Istanbul that killed one man and injured more than 20 people late on Sunday.

Istanbul Governor Erol Cakir said the attack was in retaliation for Mr Ocalan's sentence.

The PKK has also claimed responsibility for a machine-gun attack last week in which four people died in an eastern town.

Ocalan has condemned the violence, his lawyer said on Monday.

The reported comments suggest a rift between Mr Ocalan, isolated on a high-security prison island, and his lieutenants in the mountains of eastern Turkey and northern Iraq.

Anatolian news agency quoted defence lawyer Dogan Erbas as saying: "[Ocalan] said he disagreed with this kind of attack and condemned them."

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