Turkey downplays European court ruling on

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Wed Dec 20 21:58:49 MST 2000

Turkey downplays European court ruling on
Ocalan, his lawyers rejoice

Turkey on Friday downplayed the decision by the European Court of Human
Rights to hear condemned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah
Ocalan's complaints against Ankara, while his lawyers hailed the ruling.

The only official Turkish reaction so far came from Justice Minister
Hikmet Sami Turk, who said the Strasbourg-based court's decision
amounted only to the affirmation that Ocalan's case could be heard.

"The court will begin to hear the actual case later," Turk said in
remarks which appeared to downplay Friday's decision.

Meanwhile, Ocalan's defence team in Istanbul welcomed the decision,
especially the referral of the case to a higher court of 17 judges, as
the "acknowledgement of the importance of the case and its relation to
an international problem".

  "We are happy with the court's decision. We were expecting it to agree
to hear the  complaints," attorney Hasip Kaplan told AFP in a phone

 But Kaplan noted that under the court's rules, both sides to the case –
Turkey and Ocalan's lawyers – had the right to appeal within the next 30
days against the decision to turn over the complaints to the higher

The court said Friday that it would hear most of Ocalan's complaints,
including the lack of a fair trial in Turkey and the violations of his
freedom of expression, religion and other rights.

However, they rejected a petition to examine his complaint that Turkish
police had  failed to respect "the right of all detained persons to be
informed of the reasons for their arrest and all accusations against

 But Kaplan was unflustered by the court's rejection of the petition,
and underlined that it was an "important step" that most of the
complaints were deemed receivable by the court.

Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was sentenced
to death in  June 1999 for treason and separatism for his role at the
helm of his rebels' 15-year struggle for Kurdish self-rule in
southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish government suspended the execution of Ocalan's death
sentence in January until the European Court of Human Rights could rule
on its complaints – a  process which could take up to two years, Kaplan

The PKK leader is currently kept in solitary confinement on a prison
island in northwestern Turkey, his home since he was captured in an
undercover operation in Kenya and broguth back to Turkey in February
last year



Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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