Turkey to release 38,000 prisoners 'to make room for arrested coup plotters'

Conditional release will not apply to those convicted of involvement in coup

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 17 August 2016 08:06
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A supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves a flag against an electronic billboard during a rally in Kizilay Square on 18 July, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey
A supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves a flag against an electronic billboard during a rally in Kizilay Square on 18 July, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey

Turkey has issued a decree for the conditional release of 38,000 prisoners in an apparent move to make space for thousands of people arrested as part of an investigation into last month's failed coup.

The decree, announced by the country's justice minister, allows the release of inmates who have two years or less to serve of their sentences.

It also makes convicts who have served half their prison term eligible for parole.

However, those convicted of murder, domestic violence, sexual abuse or terrorism and other crimes against the state will be excluded.

The measures will not apply for crimes committed after 1 July, excluding any people later convicted of involvement in the 15 July coup.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on his Twitter account that the measure would lead to the release of around 38,000 people.

He also insisted it was not a pardon or an amnesty, but a conditional release of prisoners.

The government has said the failed putsch, which led to at least 270 deaths, was carried out by followers of the movement led by US-led Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who infiltrated the military and other state institutions.

Mr Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup but Turkey is demanding the United States extradite him.

More than 26,000 have been detained by the Turkish government and a further 8,000 remain under investigation, according to the country's Justice Minister.

Thousands of teachers, judges, civil servants and police officers have been suspended, journalists and academics have been arrested and more than 130 media outlets shut down.

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