Turkey to release 38,000 pre-coup prisoners

Aug 17, 2016, 6:07 AM EDT
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
(Source: World Humanitarian Summit/flickr)

In a move apparently aimed at freeing up space in the country’s overcrowded jails following last month’s failed coup attempt, Turkey announced a penal reform under which 38,000 prisoners will be granted an early release. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that the scheme will apply to those who committed crimes before July 1 and will exclude the prisoners guilty of murder, terrorism, sexual abuse or state security crimes.

In a combative response, Turkey has detained some 23,000 people over suspected links to July 15 failed putsch, as a result of which, the prison service has been stretched to “a breaking point,” writes the BBC. The government may not admit it openly but the move is aimed at making room for coup plotters, who face trials and heavy jail sentences.

The Turkish government issued two new decrees on Wednesday, ordering the dismissal of more than 2,000 officers in police, military and information and technology services, reports Reuters. Those dismissed are accused of having ties with U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, the alleged mastermind of the failed coup bid.

According to the figures published in March by Turkey's justice ministry, the country’s prison population rose by three times since 2002, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's A.K. Party came to power.