Noose tightens around Ocalan

ABDULLAH OCALAN returns to court today, the shadow of the noose over him more clearly than ever. As the defence begins its final statement, Mr Ocalan's offer of peace in exchange for his life appears to have been rejected, and Turkey is stepping up its campaign to convince the West that the country has no Kurdish problem.

Grim booklets replete with pictures of murdered babies have appeared, detailing the crimes of Mr Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its alleged links with Turkey's enemies abroad. Turkish diplomats have been inquiring why the trial, overshadowed by events in Kosovo and Kashmir, has not been given more publicity.

Mr Ocalan is being tried under intense security on the prison island of Imrali. He stands accused of trying to break up the Turkish state, and is blamed for 30,000 deaths in the PKK's 14-year struggle to win Kurdish autonomy. He has mounted no legal defence.

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