Dismissing his calls for peace, prosecutors demanded today that Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan be hanged for leading a 15-year rebellion against Turkey that has killed more than 30,000 people.
Ocalan watched calmly from his seat in a bulletproof, bombproof chamber in the courtroom.
"With the aim of establishing an independent state on Turkish territory, [Ocalan] formed and led the armed gang . . . which carried out thousands of terrorist attacks, ruthlessly killed tens of thousands of people and left as many disabled," Chief Prosecutor Cevdet Volkan said.
He asked the court to punish Ocalan under a law that calls for the death penalty for separatism and treason.
After Volkan read his statement, the presiding judge, Turgut Okyay, asked Ocalan if he had anything to say. "I need time to prepare," Ocalan responded, and the court adjourned until June 23.
Ocalan's Kurdish Workers' Party issued a statement late Monday warning that it would be "suicide for the Turkish state" if Ocalan is executed. "All forms of struggle to defend the national honor, pride and cause of the Kurdish people would then be legitimate," the statement said.
Throughout the trial, which began last week, Ocalan has told the court that he should not be hanged because he could serve the state by working for peace and calling on his fighters to surrender. Volkan dismissed the offers as "insincere," saying that Ocalan was simply trying to save himself.
Guerrillas have staged sporadic attacks during the trial, which is being held on the prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara about 40 miles south of Istanbul, where Ocalan is the sole inmate.
He is widely expected to be convicted and sentenced to death. If the punishment is endorsed by the legislature, he would be the first person to be hanged in Turkey since 1984.