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Switzerland summons Turkish ambassador over Ocalan sentence

The Swiss foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned the Turkish ambassador to Switzerland and formally expressed the government's concern over the death sentence for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

This content was published on June 30, 1999 - 13:21

The Swiss foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned the Turkish ambassador to Switzerland and formally expressed the government's concern over the death sentence for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The ministry said it wanted ambassador Erdal Tümer to tell Ankara that Switzerland was concerned about the Turkish court's death sentence for Ocalan.

Shortly after the state security court passed the death sentence on Tuesday, the Swiss government called on the Turkish authorities not to carry it out, saying this would lead to renewed violence throughout Europe.

Ocalan was sentenced to hang for his role in a Kurdish separatist campaign in which over 29,000 people were killed.

According to political observers in Turkey, the public mood appears at present to be strongly in favour of carrying out the execution, probably on Imrali Island, where Ocalan has been held since his capture. But Ocalan's case must pass first to the appeals court and then to parliament for ratification.

A Kurdish committee in Geneva said it refused to accept the death sentence and warned that Ocalan's rebel Kurdistan Workers Party would spread its armed campaign against the Turkish authorities.

"On Tuesday, Turkey lost a unique opportunity to end the war between Turks and Kurds," a spokesman for the committee said.

He called on the international community to "end its silence" over the Kurdish issue and asked the Swiss government to intervene with the Turkish government on behalf of Ocalan.

Two Social Democrat members of the Swiss parliament, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold and Peter Vollmer, again called for an international conference to find a negotiated settlement of the Kurdish conflict.

Vollmer said he planned to contact members of the Turkish parliament to discuss the situation, while Vermot-Mangold said that Switzerland must do more in order to help avoid an escalation of violence in Turkey.


Sources: APD, sda-ats, Reuters

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