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Turkey's PM Says Government Won't Seek Retrial of Ocalan

The prime minister of Turkey says his government will not seek a new trial for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, despite a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The court on Thursday ruled Turkey violated international treaties by denying Ocalan a fair and independent trial.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Budapest he was aware that the European Court of Human Rights has raised doubts about the fairness of the trial of Kurdish rebel leader Ocalan, who is currently serving a life sentence as the sole inmate of a prison on a Turkish island.

Ocalan was originally sentenced to death for his role in the killing of an estimated 30,000 people during his PKK group's 15-year struggle for Kurdish independence.

Under pressure from the EU, Turkey rescinded the death penalty in 2002 and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The European Court ruled Thursday that Ocalan was "not tried by an independent and impartial tribunal" and suggested the case should be re-opened.

Prime Minister Erdogan denied the Court's conclusions and said his government would not actively seek a re-trial. But he said it was up to Turkey's judiciary to decide what to do next.

"Well, the Council of Ministers of the European Union will make the necessary evaluation about the relevant proposal of the European Court," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "And after that this question is brought before the Turkish judicial system. And the Turkish government does not have anything to do with that."

Prime Minister Erdogan said there can be "no doubt" that Turkey is a country based on the rule of law and stressed his government would respect whatever Turkish courts and the legislature decide.

Following his talks with Hungarian leaders, Mr. Erdogan received support for Turkey's entry into the EU Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said two-thirds of Hungarians support Turkey's EU entry.

Mr. Gyurcsany suggested EU ministers should not make a new trial for Ocalan a condition for Turkey's EU membership.

"We don't have a reason to apply new conditions than the program formulated there or to pose new requirements," said Ferenc Gyurcsany. "Or to have any doubts whether Turkey wants or can deliver these requirements and conditions."

Hungary is one of 10 mainly Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU last year. Hungarian officials have made clear they want closer diplomatic and trade relations with Turkey.