IMRALI ISLAND–Turkey (Reuters)– Turkish prosecutors on Tuesday demanded that Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan be hanged for an armed separatist campaign which his guerrillas have vowed to escalate if he is executed.
Judges adjourned the case for 15 days to allow Ocalan’s lawyers to prepare their summing-up–and a verdict is expected toward the end of this month. Turkey has not carried out an execution since 1984.
The court on the top security prison island of Imrali had reconvened on Tuesday after a three-day break to allow prosecutors time to prepare their final statement.
Ocalan has offered to help negotiate an end to the fighting and bring the guerrillas down from the mountains of the mainly Kurdish southeast in return for his life being spared.
His PKK commanders–still at large in remote hideouts in Turkey and northern Iraq–said they backed his call but warned of increased violence if their leader hangs.
"Any ugly decision that would eliminate the leadership would be suicide for the Turkish state. The Kurdish people would then have the legitimate right to struggle in every way to defend their national honor," the PKK said in a statement on Monday.
Turkey’s powerful military–which dominates national policy on the rebel conflict–rejected the peace offer.
"The Turkish armed forces–conducting the struggle against terrorism–to this day have not accepted the terrorist organization as an interlocutor. And it is not possible for them to do so in the future," an army statement said on Monday.
And Turkey’s hard-line nationalists–the second biggest bloc in parliament and a partner in a newly formed coalition government–said they would back a death sentence for Ocalan if one arrived in the assembly for ratification.