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12 LJIL 565 (1999)
The Arrest of Abdullah Ocalan

handle is hein.journals/lejint12 and id is 571 raw text is: 


The Arrest of Abdullah Ocalan

Geoff Gilbert

Keywords: extradition; 6calan; international abduction; transnational fugitive offender; po-
litical offense exemption.

Abstract: Abdullah Ocalan's arrival in Turkey in February 1999 followed a prolonged
search in Europe for asylum following his expulsion from Syria in late 1998. His coming
within Turkish jurisdiction raises questions about the international processes to bring alleged
transnational fugitive offenders before the courts. This article looks at the extradition regime
within Europe and the alternative methods of rendition that were eventually employed to re-
move him from Kenya. Extradition law developed during the nineteenth century and is based
on ideas of revolution, the principle of nationality and liberal democracy which pervaded that
period. The late twentieth century has a different ethos that offers fewer protection to the po-
litical revolutionary, but has incorporated international human rights standards. Extradition
law straddles the enforcement of criminal law, non-interference in the domestic affairs of an-
other State and international human rights law. The article concludes by examining the de-
mands of international human rights law for the trial in Turkey.


As news spread on 16 February 1999 that Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK,
was in Turkish custody, Kurdish protesters throughout Europe demonstrated
against alleged Greek complicity in his capture. Furthermore, it ended a month
of high farce on the international stage as Ocalan had sought refuge in various
European States and ultimately Kenya, having been expelled from his base in
Syria by the authorities in Damascus in October 1998. The details of his move-
ments following his departure from Syria are not wholly clear, but his case
highlights aspects of the law relating to the international protection of refugees,
extradition law, de facto extradition and international abduction, international
human rights law and self-determination.

    Professor of Law, Director, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex, United Kingdom; author of
    Transnational Fugitive Offenders in Internanonal Law (1998). I amn grateful to Chris Decker and
    Bora Bald, both students on the LL.M, in International Human Rights Law 1998-99, who have sup-
    plied me with factual information helpful in the writing of this article, The position is stated as at 28
    February 1999: no attempt has been made to analyze his subsequent trial in Turkey.
 12 Leiden Joumal of tntematioial Law 565-574 (1999)
 © 1999 Kluwer Law Intervaticnal

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