Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says Tuesday a fair trial would represent a harsher punishment for suspected coup plotters than the death penalty — an apparent step back from threats to re-introduce capital punishment.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had suggested Turkey could bring back capital punishment — abolished in 2004 as part of the country’s reforms to join the European Union — in the wake of the July 15 failed coup aimed at ousting him from power.
The threat stunned the EU, which makes the abolition of capital punishment an unnegotiable condition for joining the bloc.
“A person dies only once when executed,” Yildirim tells ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) MPs in parliament.
“There are tougher ways to die than the death (penalty) for them. That is an impartial and fair trial,” Yildirim says.
The prime minister’s comments mark a change in tone after Erdogan said earlier this month that if the Turkish public wanted a return to capital punishment, then political parties would follow their will.