32,000 arrested in Turkey coup probe

Turkey may need to build more courts to try coup suspects

Agence France-Presse . Istanbul
Turkey coup

This file photo taken on July 15 shows people taking streets near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge during clashes with military forces in Istanbul. — AFP photo

Turkey said Wednesday that courts have placed 32,000 suspects under arrest on charges of links to a group run by the US-based preacher blamed for the July coup bid, as the country braces for the most extensive trials in its history.
Turkey may have to build new courthouses to cope with thousands of prosecutions over July’s failed coup, justice minister Bekir Bozdag said on Wednesday.
‘We will build new courthouses as needed,’ Bozdag told private broadcaster NTV in comments aired live.
Bozdag said that 70,000 people had been investigated after the attempted putsch on July 15 and of them 32,000 remanded in custody.
‘This process is continuing,’ he said. The numbers of those arrested marks an increase of more than 10,000 from those previously given by the government.
Bozdag said that there could be new arrests, while some of those currently arrested could still be freed under judicial control or freed entirely.
Some two-and-a-half months after the coup attempt aimed at ousting president Recep Tayyip Erdogan led to a crackdown unprecedented in Turkey’s modern history, there is still no indication as to when trials might start.
The trials of tens of thousands of people will be the biggest legal process in Turkey’s history and are set to put the system under unprecedented pressure.
Turkey has already granted some 38,000 convicts early release in an apparent bid to create more space in cramped jails for the coup suspects.
‘It is not entirely clear how the trials will be carried out,’ Bozdag acknowledged.
He said trials would take place in cities across the country and not in one single venue.
Bozdag said there was no need to create a special trial venue in Istanbul as capacity was sufficient. But he said one was needed in Ankara and work is taking place for a trial venue at Sincan outside the capital.
‘People are not going to be put on trial in just one place but trials will take place in all of Turkey,’ he said.
The purge after the coup has touched every sector in Turkey with those arrested ranging from top former generals to journalists to sweet pastry magnates.
Youth and sports ministry Akif Cagatay Kilic told the Anadolu news agency Wednesday that 322 people had been suspended from his ministry on suspicion of being affiliated to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, accused of orchestrating the attempted overthrow.
On Tuesday, 87 staff were dismissed from the powerful National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), in the first purge so far from the powerful spy agency.
Turkey’s Western allies have expressed concern over the magnitude of the crackdown which is being imposed within a three-month state of emergency announced after the coup.
Ankara has insisted that the rule of law is being observed and has said there will be right of appeal for anyone unfairly caught in the sweep.
The coup prompted an unprecedented wave of solidarity in Turkey, which had seen governments directly ousted on three occasions by the military since 1960.
But amid signs that the solidarity is beginning to crumble, the leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Wednesday made his most severe criticism yet of the crackdown.

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