AKP executive speaks out against death penalty

AKP executive speaks out against death penalty

KARABÜK – Doğan News Agency
AKP executive speaks out against death penalty

AA photo

A veteran executive of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has spoken out against reintroducing the death penalty, in remarks contrary to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s, citing “sensitivities” surrounding the issue. 

“If you execute a person, they will die only once, but if you give them a heavy penalty, they will die each day,” AKP Karabük deputy Mehmet Ali Şahin said in his address to locals on a “democracy watch” at the city’s Kent Square.

Reminding the masses of his profession as a lawyer, Şahin emphasized that the debate had to be carried out delicately, as erroneous judgements were impossible to reverse once the death penalty was introduced. 

“If Turkish laws permitted the death penalty, many commanders would have been executed,” Şahin said, reminding of the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon coup plot cases that are now believed to have been fabricated by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) in order to pave the way to infiltrate into Turkey’s military. 

The Ergenekon case was filed seven years ago against 274 people, including military officers, politicians and journalists, over an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the AKP government, while Balyoz was an alleged military coup plot believed to have been drafted in 2003.

Almost all judges and prosecutors who took part in the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases and a number of police officers involved in the process have faced accusations that they were acting under commands from Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher accused of orchestrating the July 15 failed coup attempt.  

“Let’s say we hanged some of these [commanders] because we had the death penalty. Later, when these files reopened, we said, ‘There has been a mistake,’ could we bring back the people we hanged?” Şahin asked, explaining why the death penalty was a sensitive question. 

Erdoğan has repeatedly said since the failed coup bid that he would approve the death penalty if the country’s parliament were to vote for it. 

“If the parliament accepts the reintroduction of the death penalty, I will accept it,” he told a rally of millions of people in Istanbul on Aug. 7, adding that the death penalty existed in the U.S., Japan and “many other countries.”

“If the people want the death penalty, I think the political parties will also accept it,” he also said, noting the death penalty existed in Turkey until 1984.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized Erdoğan over his remarks on capital punishment, criticizing the president for “fueling” tensions instead of calming down the people. 

Turkey removed the death penalty from its constitution in 2002 as part of the accession process to the European Union.