Turkey sus­pends over 12,000 po­lice in coup in­ves­ti­ga­tion Lat­est move un­der con­tro­ver­sial state of emer­gency

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Turkey yes­ter­day sus­pended more than 12,000 po­lice of­fi­cers over al­leged links to Mus­lim cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, ac­cused of mas­ter­mind­ing the failed July coup, in the lat­est move un­der the con­tro­ver­sial state of emer­gency. Mean­while, a prom­i­nent pro-Kur­dish tele­vi­sion chan­nel was raided and broad­casts cut un­der the emer­gency laws, over ac­cu­sa­tions of sup­port­ing Kur­dish mil­i­tants.

Of the 12,801 sus­pended from duty as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the coup at­tempt, 2,523 were po­lice chiefs, the po­lice head­quar­ters said in a state­ment. In to­tal, Turkey has sus­pended around 270,000 po­lice of­fi­cers. The ac­tion was taken over sus­pected links to the Gulen move­ment which Turkey blames for the failed putsch on July 15 which tried to oust Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan from power.

A few days af­ter the coup at­tempt, a three­month state of emer­gency came into force and was ex­tended on Mon­day a fur­ther 90 days from October 19. A Turk­ish of­fi­cial, who did not wish to be named, con­firmed the sus­pen­sion, adding that the in­di­vid­u­als would con­tinue to be paid two-thirds of their salary “pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion”. Gulen, an al­ly­turned-foe of Er­do­gan who has lived in self­im­posed ex­ile in the United States since 1999, strongly de­nies Ankara’s ac­cu­sa­tions. Sup­port­ers of the Gulen move­ment, also known as Hizmet (ser­vice), in­sist it is a loose group­ing of in­di­vid­u­als com­mit­ted to peace and help­ing peo­ple through ed­u­ca­tion and char­i­ties.

‘Gulen could flee’

Turkey has asked the US au­thor­i­ties to ex­tra­dite Gulen to face jus­tice back home and ex­pressed im­pa­tience with the slow­ness of the pro­ce­dure. But Washington has in­sisted the full ju­di­cial process should be ob­served. Jus­tice Min­is­ter Bekir Bozdag re­peated yes­ter­day pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment warn­ings that Gulen could es­cape to an­other coun­try based on “in­tel­li­gence” re­ceived, the Anadolu news agency re­ported.

Ac­cord­ing to Anadolu, 1,350 of those sus­pended in the po­lice force were work­ing at the Ankara po­lice head­quar­ters, which came un­der attack from the air on the night of the coup. The in­te­rior min­istry also sus­pended 37 mem­bers of its staff over al­leged links to the move­ment, CNN-Turk tele­vi­sion re­ported. At least 369 had al­ready been sus­pended from the min­istry by early Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous fig­ures from the chan­nel. In the cen­tral city of Konya, 21 sol­diers were de­tained in con­nec­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion at an air base where putschists had pre­vi­ously clashed with Turk­ish se­cu­rity forces while re­sist­ing ar­rest on July 17, two days af­ter the at­tempted coup.

‘No mat­ter who’

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple in the ju­di­ciary, civil ser­vice, mil­i­tary and ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor have been sus­pended while 32,000 sus­pects have been placed un­der ar­rest on charges of links to to the move­ment. A to­tal of 70,000 peo­ple had been in­ves­ti­gated, Bozdag said last month, adding that the “process” con­tin­ued. From teach­ers to for­mer gen­er­als and ad­mi­rals, from bak­ery mag­nates to jour­nal­ists, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the failed putsch has touched al­most all as­pects of Turk­ish life.

Also un­der the state of emer­gency, Turk­ish po­lice raided the Istanbul head­quar­ters of prom­i­nent pro-Kur­dish tele­vi­sion chan­nel IMC TV, cut­ting all trans­mis­sions while it was live on air. How­ever the chan­nel is not ac­cused of sup­port­ing the coup but of broad­cast­ing “ter­ror pro­pa­ganda” for the out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK). It has ridiculed the charges.

The gov­ern­ment’s crack­down has alarmed Turkey’s Western al­lies, in­clud­ing the Euro­pean Union, which have warned Ankara that it must act within the rule of law. The Turk­ish of­fi­cial said there had been “many cases” where sus­pended in­di­vid­u­als were now re­in­stated, but could not give an ex­act fig­ure. “A sus­pen­sion is a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure in­tended to stop sus­pects in­ter­fer­ing with the of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion, de­stroy­ing ev­i­dence, etc.”

Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim said those found guilty would face pun­ish­ment “no mat­ter who they were” dur­ing a speech to par­lia­ment in Ankara. “(But) we will never al­low those who are in­no­cent to face any griev­ances.” The de­ci­sion to ex­tend the state of emer­gency by three months was an­nounced on Mon­day af­ter a cabi­net meet­ing. Er­do­gan pre­vi­ously sug­gested that it might be nec­es­sary for the state of emer­gency to be kept for at least 12 months. Turk­ish of­fi­cials have de­fended the ex­ten­sion as a nec­es­sary means to ad­dress chal­lenges to the coun­try’s democ­racy. —AFP

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