Turkish/Kurdish politician and partisan leader/terrorist.1 Born 1949.
The leader of the PKK from 1978, Öcalan lived from 1984 in exile in Syria. In 1998, Syria deported him following diplomatic pressure from Turkey.
Failing to receive political asylum in any European country, Öcalan kept moving, trying to stay one step ahead of the Turks. However, in February 1999, he was apprehended, in Nairobi, Kenya, by Turkish security forces.
In a trial which engendered a great deal of international attention and criticism2, Öcalan was convicted of terrorism by a State Security Court3and sentenced to death, in June 1999.
An appeal is pending, and the irregularities in the trial have been brought to the attention of the European Human Rights Court, which is expected to process the case, after the Turkish court of appeals is done.
1 ...depending on which side you listen to.
2 The irregularities surrounding Öcalan's "trial" were legion, but worthy of specific mention are
- that he was given only brief time (10 days) to prepare a defence with his lawyers
- and that his conferences with his lawyers were not confidential. Guards were present at all times.
3 A partially military tribunal.