ANKARA (Reuters)–A Turkish court began Monday the treason trial in absentia of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan–Anatolian news agency said.
It said Ocalan–who has led a campaign for Kurdish self-rule since 1984–was being prosecuted for "treason and committing crimes against the state and its sovereignty."
Ocalan–known as Apo–and seven others are also being charged with separatist propaganda–for commen’s made on the Europe-based Kurdish language television channel–Med TV–but only one of the accused appeared at the court.
The Kurdish leader is believed to reside in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. The whereabouts of the others was unknown.
More than 27,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the security forces and the PKK since Ocalan ordered the PKK’s first action in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.
Turkey began winding down an 15,000-troop operation against Kurds in northern Iraq on Monday after entering the region late last month in an effort to dislodge the Kurds from bases there which they use to launch raids on southeast Turkey.