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DATE=10/7/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=TURKEY / OCALAN (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-254762 BYLINE=AMBERIN ZAMAN DATELINE=ANKARA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A Turkish court (Thursday) gave Kurdish rebel chief, Abdullah Ocalan, more time to prepare an appeal of his death sentence on treason charges. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara, the court granted the appeal postponement at the request of Ocalan's lawyers. TEXT: The court was widely expected to uphold the death sentence that was handed down last June. Ocalan was convicted and sentenced at the end of a month-long trial that was held on Imrali island off the coast of Istanbul. The postponement has been described by Western diplomats as further evidence that Turkey is giving the man it labels a "baby killer" a free and fair trial. But Ocalan's lawyers have described his treason conviction as "unjust," especially in the light of recent peace overtures made by the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party, or P-K-K. These peace overtures include calls for P-K-K rebels to withdraw from Turkish territory and end their armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule. Last week a nine- member rebel group turned itself in to Turkish authorities on the Iraqi border in what Ocalan termed a good will gesture aimed at proving that he was sincere about ending more than 15 years of ethnic conflict. Over 30-thousand people, most of them P-K-K rebels, have died since Ocalan launched his armed campaign that was initially aimed at creating an independent Kurdish state. During his trial, Ocalan shocked many of his followers by declaring the rebellion "a mistake." Ocalan said the easing of bans on broadcasting and education in the Kurdish language and the granting of a full amnesty for his fighters hiding in the mountains of southeast Turkey and northern Iraq would be enough to satisfy the Kurds demands. Turkey's response so far has been to keep up the military campaign against the rebels, to jail the group that surrendered, and to prepare new charges against Ocalan that also carry the death sentence. Turkish officials continue to dismiss Ocalan's gestures as a ploy calculated to save his own life and to create the impression that the Turkish state is negotiating, albeit it indirectly, with the rebels. That is something, Turkish officials, categorically reject, saying they will never talk with "terrorists." The parliament and the Turkish president need to approve the death sentence before it can be carried out. There have been no executions in Turkey since 1984 in line with the country's efforts to highlight its democracy. (Signed) NEB/AZ/GE/JP 07-Oct-1999 11:04 AM EDT (07-Oct-1999 1504 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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