Turkey, Politics

Erdogan withdraws, forgives all cases of insults to him

Even while defending itself against attempted coup Turkey has not compromised on the law, says president

30.07.2016
Erdogan withdraws, forgives all cases of insults to him Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets people during the opening ceremony of Bestepe National Congress&Culture Center and commemoration of those martyred in July 15 coup attempt, in Ankara, Turkey on July 29, 2016. (Ahmet İzgi - Anadolu Agency)

Ankara

ANKARA

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew lawsuits against those accused of insulting him in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt late Friday.

Referring to the coup bid as a milestone for Turkey, Erdogan said the country had not compromised its laws in the last two weeks.

It was not clear how many pending cases of insulting the president would be cancelled but in March Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said at least 1,845 cases had been opened in the previous two years.

“As a milestone, I hereby withdraw all the cases filed for insulting me and forgive all the offenders,” Erdogan told a Martyrs’ Memorial Day ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara to commemorate victims of the failed coup.

He added: “Even during the coup attempt process, we have not made the slightest compromise with the law. Every step we have taken, every decision we have made, every implementation we have launched, it has been under the constitution [and the country’s] laws.”

However, Ralf Hocker, the president’s lawyer in Germany, said the amnesty would not apply to cases filed in Germany. It is unclear how many, if any, cases of insulting Erdogan are pending in Germany.

“The statement is related to Turkey. There is no change for now in Germany,” he said. Erdogan pursued a case against comedian Jan Bohmermann in April over an insulting poem that gained widespread attention after it was accepted by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Since July 15, political parties in Turkey have come together in a show of unity to condemn the attempt by supporters of U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen to overthrow the Justice and Development (AK) Party government.

At least 16,000 people suspected of involvement in the Fetullah Terrorist Organization have been arrested and tens of thousands more dismissed from public sector jobs.

“If we do not use this opportunity, I believe the Turkish people will have the right to call us to account for it,” Erdogan said in an apparent reference to the targeting of Gulen supporters. “I believe that all the sections of the country, particularly politicians, will behave accordingly on this sensitive issue.”

He said measures being carried out in the country’s institutions such as parliament, the National Security Council, the Cabinet and ministries were in line with the law.

“If deficiencies [and] mistakes stemming from this extraordinary period occur, then a legal path is available,” Erdogan said.

The president also shared the latest figures for the victims of the failed coup.

He said 237 people, including 170 civilians, 62 police officers and five soldiers died on the night of July 15 and 2,191 people had been injured.

The coup attempt and the loss of life have led to calls from the public for the death penalty to be reintroduced. “We have an obligation to establish justice,” Erdogan said. “What does everybody say? Death penalty, death penalty, death penalty. However, this is a democratic, constitutional state governed by a parliamentary system.”

The government needs to listen to people’s demands for the reintroduction of capital punishment and parliament would discuss the issue, he added.

Erdogan also criticized some countries for failing to offer support or condolences over the failed coup. “Those countries that do not worry about Turkey’s future are not our friends,” he said.

He went on to say Turkey foiled the “games” played against it. “I hope we will give an end to the games played on Syria,” he told the audience. “We will end the game in Iraq and Libya. We will put an end to all the games in the Middle East, North Africa and all around the world played at the cost of the tears of innocent people and sufferings of the victims.”

* Erbil Basay contributed to this report from Berlin.


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