Turkish Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk played down Friday reports that the health of condemned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan was deteriorating, the all-news NTV channel reported.
Turk told a group of journalists that two medical check-ups of Ocalan on Tuesday and Wednesday had found out that the chief of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was in a good physical condition, NTV said.
One of Ocalan's lawyers said earlier this week that Ocalan was suffering from respiratory problems due to the unfavorable conditions of his solitary confinement on the island of Imrali in northwestern Turkey.
Prison doctors had diagnosed Ocalan as having allergic asthma, resulting in heavy coughing and sleeplessness at night, lawyer Dogan Erbas said.
But Turk said a three-member medical team, including a cardiologist, a pathologist and a psychologist, who examined Ocalan Wednesday, said in a report that "he does not have a health problem that requires the assistance of an expert doctor or hospital treatment."
The minister added that he had constant access to doctors.
Citing Ocalan's health, his defense team had asked the justice ministry to transfer Ocalan to another prison or at least to a more airy wing in Imrali jail.
Press reports have quoted Osman Ocalan, the PKK leader's brother and a senior commander in the organization, as describing Ocalan's condition as "life-threatening" and calling on Ankara to take the necessary steps to ensure his recovery.
Ocalan was sentenced to death for treason last June and the sentence was upheld by the appeals court in November. But his execution has been put on hold by Ankara until the European Court of Human Rights had ruled on his complaints against Turkey – ANKARA (AFP)
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