Hundred Ocalan Supporters Detained on Eve of Court Ruling
Police detained about 100 supporters of Abdullah Ocalan at a demonstration on Monday on the eve of a European court hearing on an appeal by the Kurdish rebel chief against his death sentence.
The protesters, who included members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP), were arrested in the city of Van in the south east of the country as they denounced the sentence, according to a party spokesman.
"About 100 people, including 15 members of HADEP and three of its local leaders were detained after the police moved in," Ahmet Ertas, a regional party leader, told AFP.
Ertas said women were among those rounded up by police.
Turkey is currently keeping Ocalan, the former leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in solitary confinement in Imrali jail, on an island in the Sea of Marmara.
In a statement HADEP has called on judges at the European Court of Human Rights to "choose social peace, concord and the democratization of Turkey rather than encouraging an atmosphere of violence and conflict."
Supporters and opponents of Ocalan are gearing up to stage demonstrations in the French city of Strasbourg at the opening of the European Court hearing on Tuesday.
The hearing is expected to last several months.
The Turkish government is aware that carrying out the death sentence on Ocalan would ruin the country's chances of being admitted into the European Union, for which it became a candidate in 1999.
In elections held in 1999, HADEP, which favors a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish conflict and recognition of Kurdish cultural rights, won a string of town halls in the region, but failed to enter parliament because it remained under a 10-percent national threshhold.
The party itself faces a possible ban for alleged links to the PKK, considered a terrorist group by Ankara -- ISTANBUL (AFP)
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