Istanbul: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday spoke again of reinstating death penalty and urged the US to hand over an exiled movement leader, in efforts to fight those accused of attempting a failed military coup.
The Turkish leader did not rule out reintroducing the capital punishment, which was abolished in 2002 as part of the efforts to gain membership of the European Union, Xinhua news agency reported.
“There is a clear crime of treason and your request can never be rejected by our government,” Erdogan said in an interview with CNN at his presidential palace in Istanbul, his first with a foreign media outlet since Turkey was plunged into a coup attempt on Friday night.
The Turkish government is hitting back by detaining thousands of suspects from the military, the police and the judiciary, heightening a tense atmosphere in Istanbul and Ankara in particular, the two cities which bore the brunt of the coup attempt.
Erdogan said the Turkish parliament will have to decide on the death penalty issue, but he will sign it in case a decision is made.
Speaking of calls by some Turks for the execution of coup plotters, the President responded by saying, “Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons for years to come? That’s what the people say.”
“They want a swift end to it, because people lost relatives, lost neighbours, lost children,” he added. “They’re suffering so the people are very sensitive and we have to act very sensibly and sensitively,” Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
Erdogan has repeatedly blamed the coup plot on the movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic scholar living in the US state of Pennsylvania, and appealed to President Barack Obama for his extradition.
Washington voiced its readiness to discuss the matter on Monday.
Erdogan told CNN that a formal written request will be submitted to Washington within days.
“We have a mutual agreement of extradition of criminals,” the President noted, demanding a reciprocity from Washington over extradition as Ankara had done so as a “strategic partner”.