A handout picture released by the Turkish presidential press office on August 3, 2016 shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) meeting Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland in Ankara. (Via AFP)
The chief of Europe’s top human rights body says Turkey should observe legal and human rights principles in the prosecution of people suspected of links to a failed July coup attempt in the country.
The secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, told the Associated Press on Friday that Turkish authorities needed to be careful about prosecuting people and to ensure there is compelling evidence regarding their involvement in the coup.
“We shouldn’t forget that this was a real threat to the Turkish state,” Jagland said, referring to the coup attempt. “The only question is how broad it is, and how many you should accuse of being part of it.”
The European official stressed that it is “incredibly important” for authorities in Turkey to allow their citizens to fight and appeal against the charges in the country’s constitutional court, which decides cases based on European legal norms.
The photo shows an armored vehicle of the Turkish army in Istanbul in the aftermath of a coup attempt, July 16, 2016. (By AFP)
Too wide a net?
After the coup was largely suppressed on July 16, Turkey began a heavy-handed crackdown on those deemed to have played a role in the attempt.
Turkish officials have been offering various figures on the number of those arrested in connection with the coup, but at least 20,000 are certain to have been apprehended. Over 70,000 have been dismissed or suspended from their positions in the military and public institutions.
The crackdown has faced mounting criticism from rights campaigners, but Ankara says it will continue the purge to prevent a repetition of the attempt.
Jagland had earlier warned that the Turkish government and judiciary should not go “too wide” in casting the net they use for hunting the alleged plotters.
Turkey has blamed US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen for the coup bid. Gulen has, nevertheless, condemned the coup attempt and denied any involvement in it.
At least 246 people were killed and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries in the failed putsch.