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Lawyers Seek Transfer for Ocalan

March 24, 1999

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Lawyers for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan want their client transferred off the prison island where he is being held as the sole inmate.

Lawyer Ahmet Zeki Okcuoglu said he would make an appeal in a hearing scheduled today in the ongoing trial against Ocalan on treason charges.

Ocalan is being detained on Imrali island in the Sea of Marmara, 20 miles from the nearest coast. Lawyers have long complained of the difficulties of access to their client. It takes hours to reach the island and they have not been granted private meetings.

The case in Ankara is one of several trials across Turkey in which Ocalan has been on trial in absentia prior to his Feb. 15 capture in Kenya by Turkish forces.

Dozens of families of soldiers killed fighting Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, gathered outside the court chanting slogans against Ocalan. Some 37,000 people on both sides have died since the PKK launched its battle for autonomy in southeastern Turkey in 1984.

Prosecutors were working on another indictment based on Ocalan’s confessions following his capture. No trial date has been set since no indictment has yet been filed.

Once the indictment is filed, all cases against Ocalan were expected to be combined in a trial on Imrali island.

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