Turkey’s Erdogan would reinstate death penalty after coup ‘if the people demand it’

INSTANBUL, Turkey, July 19 (UPI) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he supports reinstating the death penalty “if the people demand it” after the military’s failed coup last week.

Outside his Istanbul residence Tuesday, supporters chanted for capital punishment to return after it was outlawed in 2004 in a bid to become part of the European Union.

“Today, is there no capital punishment in America? In Russia? In China? In countries around the world?” Erdogan asked his supporters. “Only in European Union countries is there no capital punishment.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Erdogan in a phone call Monday that it will be forbidden from joining the EU if the death penalty is reinstated.

But he said Turkey was “a democratic state run by the rule of law.”

Turkey’s parliament plans to discuss reimplementation of the death penalty Wednesday.

Several thousand police officers, military personnel and judges have been suspended or arrested since the attempted coup Friday.

Air force Cmdr. Gen Akin Ozturk, one of the alleged ringleaders of the attempt coup, appeared in court Monday. The general, bearing several recent injuries, denied being involved in the uprising.

But the state-run Anadolu news agency reported Ozturk told interrogators he “acted with intention to stage a coup.”

Ozturk, commander of the air force until August 2015, and 26 senior officers were charged with treason, Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkish’s interior ministry dismissed almost 9,000 police officers Monday, arrested 6,000 military personnel and suspended almost 3,000 judges over the weekend.

More than 200 people were killed and 1,400 wounded since the failed coup Friday.

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