Turkish President backs return of death penalty

Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would approve the return of the death penalty if it was backed by parliament and the public.

He made the remarks during the “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” on Sunday evening in Istanbul against the July 15 failed coup attempt, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“If parliament accepts the reintroduction of death penalty, I will accept it,” he told the crowd, adding that the death penalty exists in the US, Japan and “many other countries”.

“If the people want death penalty, I think the political parties will also accept it,” Hurriyet Daily News quoted the President as saying.

The death penalty existed in Turkey until 1984.

Erdogan also said the state would be cleansed of all supporters of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is blamed by the Turkish government for the attempted uprising.

He has denied any involvement.

Religious figures and leaders of two of Turkey’s three opposition parties attended the rally, the BBC reported.

The Kurdish party was not invited.

A total of 240 people were killed in events that led to the failed coup attempt, which triggered a government crackdown. Over 2,190 others were injured.

About 18,000 alleged supporters of Gulen have been arrested or dismissed from government jobs.