Turkey Assails Greek Role in Kurdish Case
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit accused Greece on Saturday of sponsoring terrorism, calling its behavior in the case of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan “unforgivable.”
Ecevit also rejected a lawyer’s claims that he was unable to carry out a defense of Ocalan, who is facing a possible death penalty on treason charges after his arrest.
Ocalan, whose whereabouts had been unknown since he left Rome in January, was captured on Feb. 15 by Turkish commandos in Kenya after he left the Greek Embassy in Nairobi. He was flown back to Turkey and imprisoned.
Ecevit’s attack came after the Greek government’s decision to fly three Ocalan aides to Athens after they were stranded at its embassy in Kenya following the rebel chief’s capture.
“This behavior is unforgivable. Greece has become a shelter and training center for terrorists who want to divide Turkey. This is a crime against humanity,” the official Anatolia News Agency quoted Ecevit as telling reporters in Ankara, the capital.
Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, has fought for self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has claimed 30,000 lives.
Defense lawyers met with Ocalan for the first time Thursday. The next day, one of the lawyers said he was suspending his activity until Turkish authorities met several demands.
Lawyer Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu, complaining that security officials had halted his meeting with Ocalan after 20 minutes, said the state must allow lawyers better access to their client.
One of Ocalan’s lawyers said Friday that the rebel chief appeared to be physically well. It was the first direct news of his health since he was arrested.
On Saturday, security officials in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir said Turkish troops backed by helicopters had killed 17 PKK guerrillas during clashes in the region over the last two days.
In Athens, the Kurdish rebel leader’s three female aides accused Greece of betraying Ocalan and handing him over to Turkey.
Greek officials in Kenya assured Ocalan safe passage to a European country but instead he was captured by Turkish agents, the women said in a statement.
Ocalan’s arrest sparked a wave of Kurdish protests across Europe. The protests continued Saturday in France, where several thousand Kurds marched through Paris.
Meanwhile, a Kurdish man injured in the Feb. 17 storming of the Israeli Consulate in Berlin died Saturday, 10 days after three other Kurds were shot and killed in the incident, police said.