WAP99062999 - 29 JUNE 1999 - - ANKARA, TURKEY: PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, seen here in a February 17 photo aboard a jet on his way to Turkey was sentenced to death today by a Turkish court. Ocalan was arrested at the Greek Embassy in Kenya and is blamed for a decades-old Kurdish rebel movement that is alleged to have killed thousands in Turkey. iw/ho/ UPI | License Photo
ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Turkey transferred five prisoners to the detention facility on Imrali Island housing Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
Justice officials have worked on plans to transfer more prisoners to the Imrali facility following the conclusion that Ocalan was suffering mentally from his solitary confinement. Ocalan was held in isolation since his 1999 capture.
The Imrali facility is kept under close surveillance, including satellite imagery.
Four of the new arrivals are members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. One other is from TIKKO, the armed wing of the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist, Turkey's leading English-language daily Today's Zaman reports.
The prisoner transfer follows tough sentences for PKK members by Syrian and Iranian authorities. Tehran executed a Kurdish rebel last week, and Syria sentenced four PKK members to at least seven years in prison.
The measures come as Ankara weighs a series of moves aimed at ending decades of conflict with PKK rebels and the Kurdish minority.
Ocalan called on members of the PKK in Iraq to hand themselves over to Turkish authorities as part of a broad-based reconciliation effort. Ankara, for its part, is considering cultural and other considerations for the Kurds.