Kurdish protestors leave Greek Embassy in London

Saturday 27 February 1999 16.08
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A Kurdish protester, Escorted from the embassy by police
A Kurdish protester, Escorted from the embassy by police
Abdullah Ocalan, Abducted Kurdish rebel leader
Abdullah Ocalan, Abducted Kurdish rebel leader

Kurdish protesters who took over the Greek Embassy in London have ended their occupation. The protesters, who seized control of the embassy on Tuesday, walked out of the building one by one this afternoon with their hands raised. They were escorted to waiting buses by police in riot gear. The first person out of the building was a member of the embassy staff, a caretaker, who had been held hostage. He was followed by his captors, who walked out of the building one-by-one, some with their hands raised.

The protestors had claimed yesterday that they were on hunger strike and threatened to remain inside the building until death. They had been occupying the embassy since the early hours of Tuesday as part of Europe-wide protests at Turkey's arrest of the fugitive Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

Earlier, three Greek Cabinet Ministers have resigned after accusations of mishandling the affair of the Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan. A government spokesman said the foreign, public order and interior ministers had all stepped down at the request of the Prime Minister, Costas Simitis. There has been strong criticism in Greece over Ocalan's capture by Turkey after he had been sheltered by the Greek embassy in Kenya.

The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, today warned Kurds living in Germany that they will face expulsion if they continue to take part in violent protests. The warning followed the killing of three Kurdish protestors outside the Israeli consulate in Berlin yesterday. They were shot by security guards during a demonstration against Turkey's capture of Abdullah Ocalan. Mr Schroeder expressed sympathy for the families of those who died, but he said he would not allow foreign political conflicts to spill over into German streets.

Israel has denied it had anything to do with Ocalan's abduction from Kenya and return to custody in Turkey, where he is due to stand trial for treason. A team of Israeli officials has begun an investigation into the killing of the three protestors in Berlin.