Erdogan says people will decide over death penalty

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to the crowd during a Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul. (Kayhan Ozer, AP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to the crowd during a Democracy and Martyrs' Rally in Istanbul. (Kayhan Ozer, AP)

Ankara - If the Turkish public want the death penalty following last month's failed coup then political parties will follow their will, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul on Sunday.

"If the nation makes such a decision (in support of death penalty), I believe political parties will abide by this decision," Erdogan said during a unity rally in Yenikapi square in the touristic Sultanahmet district.

"It is the Turkish parliament that will decide on this (death penalty) given the sovereignty rests with the nation... I declare it in advance...I will approve the decision made by the parliament," Erdogan said.

He attacked critics who said there was no death penalty in the EU, of which Turkey is a candidate nation, countering that capital punishment is used in the United States, Japan and China.

Terrorist organisation

"Today there is the death penalty in the majority of the world," he said, adding that capital punishment had been legal in Turkey until 2004, though the last execution took place in 1984.

Speaking to crowds of hundreds of thousands of people, Erdogan insisted that the state would be cleansed of all members of the Gulen movement "within law".

He added: "They will pay a price for what they have done," referring to the movement run by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is accused by Ankara of leading a terrorist organisation and of ordering the July 15 coup attempt during which at least 273 people were killed including 34 coup plotters.

He denies all accusations and the movement insists it promotes moderate Islam, charity and education.

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