Swedish team questions Ocalan about Palme murder

  • AFP
  • 06/04/2001 00:00:00

ANKARA, April 5 (AFP) - Three Swedish investigators questioned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in prison Thursday over a possible Kurdish involvement in the 1986 assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, Anatolia news agency reported.

"We talked with Ocalan. We asked him questions and got answers, but we cannot reveal them," a member of the team, Kerstin Mordabeth Skarp, told reporters after meeting with Ocalan in the prison island of Imrali in nortwestern Turkey.

Palme was gunned down in February 1986 by a still-unidentified assailant as he walked along a Stockholm street.

Ocalan, sentenced to death for treason in June 1999, said during his trial that a dissident Kurdish group led by his ex-wife, Kesire Yildirim, assassinated Palme in order to discredit Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The rebel claimed the splinter group aimed to prevent the creation of a climate favoring a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, which Palme could have initiated.

Over the past 15 years, Swedish police have followed up countless leads on the Palme slaying and in February said they had been given permission by Turkey to question Ocalan over the "PKK lead."

A home to PKK exiles, Sweden had been keeping the militants under surveillance prior to Palme's murder on suspicion that they were plotting an assassination attempt.

Ocalan's former deputy, Semdin Sakik, told Turkish police following his capture in 1998 that the PKK killed Palme because Sweden was plannning to expel eight PKK militants at the time, according to Turkish press reports.

A year after Palme's death, Swedish police arrested some 20 Kurds, but later set them free due to lack of evidence.

Ocalan has been in solitary confinement in Imrali since February 1999 when he was captured in an undercover operation in Kenya, and subsequently condemned to death.

Ankara put his execution on hold in January last year, pending an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

  • AFP
  • 06/04/2001 00:00:00