Germany Balks Over Rebel Kurd

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Turkey may toss the Abdullah Ocalan hot potato to Germany, but Bonn will probably decline to catch it. Turkey's government -- which collapsed Wednesday in the face of a corruption scandal -- has signaled it would be happy to see the Kurdish rebel tried in a third country. Italy refused Turkey's request to extradite Ocalan, but Germany could still potentially charge him with incitement to murder. For all Turkey's protests, Italy's decision may actually help Ankara by sparing them the trouble that might have arisen from trying Ocalan at home. "Putting Ocalan on trial in Turkey could cause further turmoil here," says TIME Istanbul correspondent James Wilde. "Turkey would likely settle for rendering Ocalan inoperative in a third country, such as Germany."

Turkey's hot potato, however, doesn't get any cooler in Germany -- which is home to 2.2 million Turks and 600,000 Kurds. "Germany is reluctant to extradite Ocalan because it doesn't want to import Turkey's war," says TIME Bonn correspondent Ursula Sautter. "Ocalan's movement has always had a foothold in the Kurdish community here, and there's good reason to suspect there would be trouble if he were put on trial here." If Ocalan becomes a defendant without a courtroom, it will be an ironic echo of his followers' claim to be a people without a state.