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Turkey's Erdogan considers death penalty as 6,000 held in swoops after failed coup

By Sally Guyoncourt

Published 18/07/2016

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the funeral of his campaign manager
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the funeral of his campaign manager
Members of Turkey's armed forces suspected of involvement in the attempted coup arrive at the court in Mugla (Depo Photos/AP)
Burnt out vehicles in Ankara
A woman grieves for a loved one in Friday's failed attempted coup
Women react during the funeral of a victim
People chant slogans during a pro-government rally in Istanbul's Taksim Square (AP)
Fethullah Gulen denies plotting to overthrow the Turkish government (AP)

President Erdogan has been warned not to use the failed coup in Turkey as a “blank cheque” to bypass democratic principles.

Six thousand people have been arrested over the uprising, amid growing fears the government will use the attempted putsch as a cover for cracking down on legitimate dissent.

High-ranking soldiers and 2,700 judges are among those detained following clashes in which 265 people were killed.

President Erdogan has said that Parliament will consider introducing the death penalty to deal with those believed to have committed traitorous acts against the state. And Turkey’s Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, said that life was returning to normal and urged supporters to remain on the streets to show their support for the government.

He also issued a stark warning to opponents: “Another calamity has been thwarted. However, our duty is not over. We shall rapidly conduct the cleansing operation so that they cannot again show the audacity of coming against the will of the people.”

Addressing tens of thousands on the streets who were chanting: “We want the death penalty! We want the death penalty!”, Mr Yildrim told protestors: “We got your message. The necessary will be done.”

Funerals were held for some of those killed in the coup attempt, including Mr Erdogan’s campaign manager Erol Olcak and his 16-year-old son, Abdullah Tayyip Olcak. The president, who attended the service, wept and vowed to take the country forward in “unity and solidarity”.

Speaking to television channel France 3, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged Turkish leaders to rule within the boundaries of the law: “(The coup) is not a blank cheque for Mr Erdogan. There cannot be purges, the rule of law must work.” He said European ministers meeting today in Brussels would reiterate that Turkey must conform to Europe’s democratic principles.

The coup, launched on Friday night by members of the military, has also increased tensions with the US, with Turkey’s leader demanding the extradition of a US-based cleric accused of orchestrating the violence.

On Sunday, President Erdogan vowed to “clean all state institutions of the virus” of Fethullah Gulen supporters

He said Turkey, through the justice and foreign ministries, would request the extradition of the cleric, who is based in the United States, and his backers.

Earlier, Mr Yildirim warned Barack Obama that “any country that stands behind him is no friend of Turkey, is engaged in a serious war with Turkey”.

“Today, after this coup attempt, I’m once again calling on you, I’m saying: Extradite this man in Pennsylvania to Turkey now,” he added.

Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s labour minister, went further than Erdogan, suggesting the US was behind the coup. “The US is behind the coup attempt. A few journals that are published there [in the US] have been conducting activities for several months. For many months we have sent requests to the US concerning Fethullah Gulen. The US must extradite him,” he said.

At a news conference on Saturday in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Mr Gulen denied any role in or knowledge of the coup.

“Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force,” he said.

“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would entertain an extradition request for Mr Gulen, but Turkey must present legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny.

Yesterday, the commander of the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey was detained for complicity in the attempted coup, a government official said.

Incirlik is used by the United States and other coalition partners in the fight against Isis.

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