Following Friday’s failed military coup (15 July), the Turkish government has been consolidating its grip on the country, particularly the army and the judiciary, and has even aired plans to reintroduce the death penalty. EURACTIV France reports.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday (17 July) that the country should reintroduce the death penalty without delay after last week’s attempted coup, which left 290 people dead and led to 6,000 arrests.
As a crowd of the president’s supporters gathered in front of his residence in Istanbul to call for the reintroduction of the death penalty, Erdoğan said, “We cannot ignore these demands.”
The death penalty was abolished in Turkey in 2004 to satisfy the European Union’s accession criteria. Ankara has not executed a prisoner since 1984.
Austria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz, said in an interview published on Sunday that such a backward step would be inadmissible.
“The introduction of capital punishment would be completely unacceptable,” Kurz told the Austrian newspaper Kurier.
“There can be no arbitrary purge, no sanctions outside the framework of the rule of law and the legal system,” the minister added. Kurz and his European counterparts are due to hold a crisis meeting in Brussels on Monday (18 July), where they will urge the Turkish leader to respect the law and his commitment to human rights.
It is not the first time that president Erdoğan has threatened to reintroduce capital punishment in Turkey. In 2012, he argued that the debate on the death penalty should be reopened to provide a strong response to serious crimes.
In total, more than 290 people lost their lives in the attempted coup, including around 100 of those attempting to seize power. More than 1,400 others were injured in violence on Friday evening, according to the latest assessment released by the Turish ministry of foreign affairs.
On top of the 6,000 arrests already made since Friday, Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag told NTV to expect further arrests of judges and army personnel.
This is part of Erdoğan’s plan to purge what he described as the “virus” that had infected the Turkish army.
The president announced that he had “regained control” of the country after the counter-operation by the Turkish authorities stamped out the attempted coup.
Among the figures arrested so far are high-ranking personalities like Ali Yazici, Erdoğan’s former military advisor, and general Bekir Ercan Van, the commander of the Incirlik military base, which serves as a strategic headquarters for aerial attacks against Islamic State militants.