- Turkish PM vows retribution against 6,000 plotters detained
- More than 8,000 Ministry of Interior officers, mostly police, dismissed
Turkey will not be able to join the European Union if it reintroduces the death penalty, a senior EU official said Monday.
“Let me be … clear on one thing: no country can become an EU member state if it introduces the death penalty,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.
Talks of reintroducing the death penalty have revived in Turkey following a failed military coup attempt over the weekend, in which at least 290 people were killed.
[Previous story, published at 05:02 a.m. ET]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made clear he will show no mercy.
Just days after a failed military coup that broke out into deadly violence, talks of reintroducing the death penalty have revived and thousands have been arrested, many of whom were detained in horse stables, stripped to the waist in humiliation.
Erdogan is wasting no time to “cleanse” the country’s security forces of “viruses,” as he put it, vowing that those behind the attempt to overthrow his government “will pay a very heavy price for this act of treason.”
Among the arrested are 103 generals and admirals, a third of the general-rank command of the Turkish military, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.
A total of 8,777 officers from the Turkish Ministry of Interior have been removed from office, Anadolu reported, adding that the majority were police officers.
Police, judges, senior aides and lawyers are also among the arrested.
As government forces continues a sweep of the country for what it perceives as traitors, 27 men accused of masterminding the failed coup arrived in court in the capital Ankara on Monday.
Images show Akin Ozturk, a four-star general and former commander of the Turkish air force, in police custody in Ankara, his ear bandaged and his neck bruised. He was seen being roughly led away by police alongside other men accused of plotting the coup, their hands bound with plastic ties, paraded in front of cameras as they were bustled into a waiting van.
Over the weekend, photographs surfaced on social media of apparent mass detentions, including one showing dozens of people kneeling down in a large stable in Ankara, apparently stripped to the waist.
The arrests include Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, commander of the Incirlik Air Base, according to the Turkish President’s office. The United States uses the airbase to launch airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
An “order of detention” for Col. Ali Yazici, a senior military aide to Erdogan, has also been issued, according to Anadolu.
The Ankara Bar Association is expected to provide lawyers for the defense of the 27 men in court , but the lawyers had no access to the men before appearing in court.
The President was due to address a crowd in Ankara, the country’s capital, early Monday, but had still not arrived by late morning.
Amnesty: Rights must be respected
Turkey’s history of military coups has long had “devastating consequences” for human rights, Amnesty International said in a statement.
“The full circumstances of the coup attempt and the violence that followed it must be effectively investigated and all those responsible brought to justice in fair trials,” the statement read.
“A number of government officials and ruling party representatives have spoken in favor of reinstating the death penalty, itself a tool of past military rulers. This regressive step should be avoided, as should further restrictions on legitimate dissent.”
Speaking at a funeral on Sunday held for some of those killed during gunfire — including the brother of his chief adviser, Mustafa Varank — Erdogan said he did not rule out bringing back the death penalty for the coup’s perpetrators.
As the crowd chanted “we want the death penalty,” he said, “we can’t ignore the people’s request in a democracy — this is your right.”
“This right has to be evaluated by the appropriate authorities according to the constitution and a decision can be made,” Erdogan said in the address broadcast live on TV.
Erdogan blames Gulen
In addition to those detained, Erdogan is demanding the United States arrest or extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blamed for the attempt to overthrow the government.
“Twenty years ago, I clearly stated my support for democracy and I said that there is no return from democracy in Turkey,” Gulen said Saturday. “My position on democracy is really clear. Any attempts to overthrow the country is a betrayal to our unity and is treason.”
Gulen , who is living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denied he had anything to do with it.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States hadn’t yet received a formal request from Turkey for Gulen’s extradition.
“We think it’s irresponsible to have an accusation of American involvement when we’re simply waiting for their request — which we’re absolutely prepared to act on if it meets the legal standard,” Kerry said.
The attempted coup
Military tanks rolled onto the streets of Ankara and Istanbul the night before and soldiers blocked the famous Bosphorus Bridge.
The military’s claim of a takeover was read on state broadcaster TRT. The military said it wanted to maintain democratic order and that the government had “lost all legitimacy.”
But the coup attempt lost momentum after Erdogan returned from vacation at the seaside resort of Marmaris. In an interview via FaceTime on CNN Turk, he appealed to supporters to quash the attempted coup, and they took to the streets en masse.
By the time he re-emerged after hours of silence, dozens had died.
Most of those who died were police officers killed in a gun battle with a helicopter near the Parliament complex in Ankara, reported NTV, a Turkish television station.
At least 290 people died and an additional 1,400 people were wounded in the uprising, according to figures from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.