Turkey sacks 9,000 officials in crackdown against suspected coup plotters

Turkey sacks 9,000 officials in crackdown against suspected coup plotters
July 19 05:59 2016

Turkey has sacked almost 9,000 officials in its
relentless crackdown against suspected coup plotters,
authorities said Monday, as the former air force chief
denied masterminding the weekend’s failed putsch.
With Western allies expressing alarm over fears Ankara
that could reinstate the death penalty in response to
Friday’s dramatic coup bid, General Akin Ozturk
appeared in court, looking haggard and with his ear
”I am not the person who planned or led the coup.

planned it and directed it I do not know,” state-run
news agency Anadolu quoted him as saying in his
statement to prosecutors.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to
wipe out the “virus” of the putschists, whose attempted
power grab left more than 300 people dead.

But the United States, European Union and United
Nations have sternly warned him against excessive
retribution as authorities round up the alleged
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman
denounced “revolting scenes of caprice and revenge
against soldiers on the streets” after disturbing pictures
emerged of the treatment of some detained suspects.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said over 7,500 people
have been detained, including 103 generals and
admirals, over the coup bid which Erdogan has blamed
on his arch-foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah

The interior ministry said almost 9,000 people,
including almost 8,000 police but also municipal
governors and other officials, had also been dismissed
in a widening purge.
Early Monday, special Istanbul anti-terror police units
raided the prestigious air force military academy,
detaining four suspects, Anadolu reported.

Authorities have also detained General Mehmet Disli,
who conducted the operation to capture chief-of-staff
Hulusi Akar during the coup, an official said.
Erdogan has urged citizens to remain on the streets
even after the defeat of the coup attempt, in what the
authorities describe as a “vigil” for democracy.
Public servants’ annual leave has meanwhile been
cancelled until further notice.
With Turkey’s big cities still on edge, Turkish security
forces killed an armed attacker who shot at them from
a vehicle outside the Ankara courthouse where
suspected coup plotters were appearing before judges.

– ‘End of EU bid’ –

Western leaders have pushed Turkey to follow the rule
of law as the massive retaliatory purge adds to existing
concerns about human rights and democracy in the
strategic NATO country.
”We also urge the government of Turkey to uphold the
highest standards of respect for the nation’s
democratic institutions,” US Secretary of State John
Kerry told reporters after talks with EU foreign

The Council of Europe joined the criticism, with its
panel of constitutional experts saying: “Arrests and
mass sackings of judges are not an acceptable way of
restoring democracy.”
Prime Minister Yildirim said the plotters would be
brought to account but Turkey would “act within the
But Erdogan added fuel to the fire, reiterating that
bringing back the death penalty is not off the table for
the coup plotters.
”There is a clear crime of treason,” Erdogan told CNN in
his first media interview since the chaotic events of
Friday night.
”The leaders will have to come together and discuss it.
If they accept to discuss it, as the president, I will
approve any decision to come out of the parliament.

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of
its long-running efforts to join the EU — and the bloc’s
foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini responded
bluntly to the suggestion it could be reinstated.
”Let me be very clear,” she said. “No country can
become an EU state if it introduces the death penalty.”
The US on Monday lifted restrictions on flights to
Turkey that had been imposed in the wake of the coup.
Meanwhile, a Greek court will Thursday decide the fate
of eight Turkish military officers who fled across the
border by helicopter after the coup, with Ankara
seeking their extradition.

– ‘Show us evidence’ –

The turbulence has raised concern about the stability of
Turkey, which is part of the international coalition
fighting Islamic State jihadists in Syria.
It has also hit financial markets, with the lira at one
point losing five percent in value against the dollar
although it rallied slightly Monday.
Ankara has demanded that Washington extradite
Gulen, but Kerry said he had urged his Turkish
 counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to “send us evidence,
not allegations”.

The preacher’s followers have a powerful presence in
Turkish society, including the media, police and
judiciary, and Erdogan has long accused him of running
a “parallel state” in Turkey.
But the 75-year-old has categorically denied any
involvement in the plot and suggested it could have
been staged by Erdogan himself.
In another development, police on Monday detained
seven soldiers after searching the key Incirlik air base
in southern Turkey used by the US for air raids on IS
jihadists, Anadolu reported.