Istanbul | Turkish authorities pressed Sunday with a ruthless crackdown against suspects in the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with 6,000 people detained as he vowed to stamp out the virus of the putschists.
Erdogan also said Turkey could consider reinstating the death penalty following the putsch bid, despite concerns in the international community. World leaders including US President Barack Obama have strongly condemned Friday’s attempted takeover by an army faction, but there is also alarm over the retaliatory purges, especially after pictures emerged showing the rough treatment of some suspects.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said around 6,000 people had been detained in clean-up operations and warned that the number would rise. They include senior army commanders, top judges, prosecutors and a military aide to Erdogan. A resurgent Erdogan raised the prospect of bringing back capital punishment, which was abolished in 2004 as the country sought to improve its chances of joining the EU. In democracies, decisions are made based on what the people say. I think our government will speak with the opposition and come to a decision, he said, reacting to crowds in Istanbul calling for the death penalty. We cannot delay this anymore because in this country, those who launch a coup will have to pay the price for it, he told supporters.
Earlier he told a crowd of thousands at a funeral for the victims in Istanbul there would be no let-up in the fight against his sworn enemy Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Islamic preacher he accuses of masterminding the coup plot. We will continue to clean the virus from all state bodies because this virus has spread. Unfortunately like a cancer, this virus has enveloped the state, he said.
A total of 265 people were killed during the coup bid, including 161 civilians and regular troops and 104 coup plotters, according to government and military figures. Clashes erupted at an air base in the central city of Konya between security forces and putschists trying to evade arrest, while at Istanbul’s second airport Sabiha Gokcen, police fired warning shots at rebel troops who later surrendered, a Turkish official told AFP. Turkish authorities have made clear they will show no mercy in the wake of the coup, which sparked fears of chaos in the strategic NATO country of 80 million people. It was the biggest challenge to Erdogan’s rule in his 13 years as prime minister and president.