Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has brought reinstatement of the death penalty back to Turkey’s agenda just like he does during almost every election period, this time in reference to a femicide trial that ended with a reduced sentence for the murderer, local media reported on Friday.
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as a part of reforms to facilitate Turkey’s accession to the European Union, although the death penalty has not been used since 1984.
Erdoğan on Friday told reporters that he would approve reinstatement of capital punishment if it was passed by parliament, in response to a question about a femicide case concerning the brutal killing of 27-year-old university student Pınar Gültekin.
Five days after going missing in Turkey’s southwestern Aegean province of Muğla on July 16, 2020, Gültekin was found dead in a forest. Forensic investigations revealed that the woman was strangled and then set on fire by her ex-boyfriend, Cemal Metin Avcı, who confessed to the murder.
The Muğla 3rd High Criminal Court, which heard the trial concerning the murder of Gültekin, who was among at least 300 women killed in Turkey in 2020, according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, first handed down an aggravated life sentence to Avcı on charges of premeditated murder. But the court later ruled to reduce his sentence to 23 years based on Article 29 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which is often used to reduce sentences for men accused of such crimes on the grounds that the victim provoked the murder with her actions.
When asked about the verdict in the murder trial in June, Erdoğan said reinstatement of the death penalty to punish such crimes may come to the country’s agenda again and be opened for discussion.
“Of course, this is an issue that requires a constitutional amendment. As I have said before, if, as part of a study carried out by the Justice Ministry, the parliament takes such a decision, I will approve it,” the president added.
Restoring capital punishment is a topic Erdoğan frequently talks about ahead of elections. As the country readies for polls scheduled to take place in June 2023, the issue has started to come up during the president’s speeches.
Erdoğan last week said, referring to wildfires that had recently started in the country’s southwest, that the punishment imposed on those responsible for the fires should be a deterrent.
“If it has to be the death penalty, then it should be the death penalty,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002 as a single-party government, pressed ahead for the abolishment of the death penalty.
Speaking at a campaign rally for the March 31, 2019 local elections in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak less than two weeks before the vote, Erdoğan expressed regret for abolishing capital punishment and said it was “a mistake.”