ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said his government would ask parliament to consider reintroducing the death penalty as a punishment for the plotters behind the July coup bid.
“Our government will take this (proposal on capital punishment) to parliament. I am convinced that parliament will approve it, and when it comes back to me, I will ratify it,” Erdogan said at an inauguration ceremony in Ankara.
“Soon, soon, don’t worry. It’s happening soon, God willing,” he said, as crowds chanted: “We want the death penalty!”
Capital punishment was abolished in Turkey in 2004 as the nation sought accession to the European Union.
After the failed bid to unseat Erdogan on July 15, the leader had threatened to bring the death penalty back for the coup plotters, stunning EU leaders.
Relations between Brussels and Ankara have been strained since Turkey responded to the coup by launching a relentless crackdown against alleged plotters in state institutions, amid calls from the EU to act within the rule of law.
Tens of thousands of staff within the military, judiciary, civil service and education have been dismissed or detained in a crackdown.
On Saturday, Erdogan scoffed at the West’s warnings on the reintroduction of the death penalty.
“The West says this, the West says that. Excuse me, but what counts is not what the West says. What counts is what my people say,” he said, during a ceremony to inaugurate a high-speed train station in the Turkish capital.
Ankara accuses Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen who lives in exile in the US of masterminding the attempt to oust Erdogan — a claim he denies.
“What are you doing in Pennsylvania, Go on, come here! Why don’t you come home?” Erdogan added.
Erdogan’s government has also repeatedly called on the US to extradite Gulen.
In the event of him not being extradited, “nothing would ever be the same again” in US-Turkish relations, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag warned on Saturday, according to a report by the Anadolu news agency.
The prospect of the death penalty’s reintroduction has stunned the EU, which makes the abolition of capital punishment an unnegotiable condition for joining the bloc.