Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said on Monday that cases against members of the faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for a failed coup in the summer of 2016, would no longer be on Turkey’s agenda.
Speaking in an interview with the pro-government Sabah daily, Gül said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government expects Gülen movement followers to receive the requisite sentences in trials in which they’re accused of being involved in the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
“The members of our judiciary have been working with great sacrifice to themselves. FETÖ [acronym for the Fethullah Terrorist Organization used by the AKP government to refer to the Gülen movement] cases will not be on Turkey’s agenda in 2018. Our expectation is for the coup-plotters to receive the requisite sentences within the boundaries of the law. Our courts are definitely not working like automatic punishment machines,” he said.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 16 said 48,739 people had been jailed and eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations against it.
Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 15 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency.