Turkey's 'prepared list' of arrests sparks concern amid crackdown

Turkey's 'prepared list' of arrests sparks concern amid crackdown
Turkey has detained more than 7,500 suspects 'involved in the coup plot' seeking to oust the government, the prime minister said on Monday, as EU voices concerns over the arrests.
3 min read
18 July, 2016
Authorities are showing no mercy in the wake of the coup [Getty]

Some 7,500 people including top army commanders, judges and prosecutors had been detained in Turkey following the failed coup, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to stamp out the "virus" of the putschists.

A total of 103 generals and admirals have been detained in sweeps across the country as well as 2,389 soldiers, according to Turkish media reports. A military aide to Erdogan, Ali Yazici, was also held.

The crackdown is not limited to the military, with arrest warrants issued for 2,745 judges and prosecutors, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

The suspects are being charged with membership of an "armed terrorist organisation" and attempting to overthrow the government by force, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The message from authorities is clear: they will show no mercy in the wake of the coup.

Chief of General Staff Ümit Dündar said, "As the Turkish Armed Forces, we are committed to purging our army from all the members of the parallel state structured in our army along with everyone involved in the coup. No one who betrayed their state and nation will go unpunished."

However, the swift rounding up of arrests indicates the government had prepared a list beforehand, the EU commissioner dealing with Turkey's membership bid, Johannes Hahn, said on Monday.

"It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage," Hahn said.

"I'm very concerned. It is exactly what we feared."

Responding to reports of thousands of judges being arrested in Turkey, Chairman of the Bar of England & Wales, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, said: “We are concerned about the possible implications of these developments for the Rule of Law in Turkey.

"This is not the first time this Turkish government has struck at the core of fundamental civil and democratic values... The judiciary and legal profession in any jurisdiction should not and cannot fulfil their duties under the threat of arrest."

In addition to the arrests, nearly 9,000 officials have been sacked, including 614 members of the police force that looks after domestic security. A total of 8,777 public personnel including 7,899 police, one provincial governor and 29 governors of towns have been dismissed, the ministry said.

Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey would now consider reinstating the death penalty, which was legally abolished in 2004 as part of Turkey's bid to join the EU.

"We want the death penalty," a large crowd of Erdogan supporters shouted as Turkish President gave his speech on Sunday evening.

"We hear your request. In a democracy, whatever the people want they will get," Erdogan responded.

The Turkish government will be in contact with Turkey's opposition parties to reinstate capital punishment, he said.

"We will not delay this decision for long. Because those who attempt a coup in this country must pay," he added.

Amnesty International urged Turkey, which has not executed anyone since 1984, to uphold human rights in its response to the coup attempt and to not bring back the death penalty.