Erdogan supports return of death penalty in Turkey

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told a rally in Istanbul that he would approve the return of the death penalty if it was backed by parliament and the public.

He was speaking to a crowd of at least a million who had gathered in Turkey’s biggest city.

The rally followed last month’s failed military coup.

Mr Erdogan also said the state would be cleansed of all supporters of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is blamed by the Turkish government for the attempted uprising. He denies any involvement.

Religious figures and leaders of two of Turkey’s three opposition parties attended the rally. The Kurdish party was not invited.

The parade ground, built to hold more than a million people, was overflowing, with streets of surrounding neighborhoods clogged by crowds.

Turkish government sources said five million people had attended, with the event broadcast live on public screens at smaller rallies across Turkey’s provinces.

Mr Erdogan told the rally: “It is the Turkish parliament that will decide on the death penalty… I declare it in advance, I will approve the decision made by the parliament.

Mr Erdogan also said that “They say there is no death penalty in the EU… Well, the US has it; Japan has it; China has it; most of the world has it. So they are allowed to have it. We used to have it until 1984. Sovereignty belongs to the people, so if the people make this decision I am sure the political parties will comply”.

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