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Turkey has arrested 32,000 people - and it's just the start

Around one in every 1,000 people in Turkey has been investigated in connection with the July coup.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine during an Istanbul rally in August.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine during an Istanbul rally in August.
Image: Emrah Gurel/PA

TURKISH COURTS HAVE placed 32,000 suspects under arrest ahead of trial on charges of links to a group run by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who is blamed for the 15 July coup, the justice minister said today.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told NTV television that 70,000 people had been investigated after the coup – and, of them 32,000 remanded in custody.

“This process is continuing,” he said.

The numbers of those arrested marks an increase of more than 10,000 from those previously given by the government.

There are 75 million people in Turkey, meaning that around one in every 1,000 people has been investigated in connection with the July coup.

Bozdag said that there could be new arrests, while some of those currently arrested could still be freed under judicial control or freed entirely.

Some two-and-a-half months after the coup attempt aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led to a crackdown unprecedented in Turkey’s modern history, there is still no indication as to when trials might start.

Turkey Military Coup A pedestrian passes under a Turkish flag in Istanbul. Source: Thanassis Stavrakis/PA

Special venue

The trials of tens of thousands will be the biggest legal process in Turkey’s history and are set to put the system under unprecedented pressure.

“It is not entirely clear how the trials will be carried out,” Bozdag acknowledged.

He said trials would take place in cities across the country and not in one single venue.

Bozdag said there was no need to create a special trial venue in Istanbul as capacity was sufficient. But he said one was needed in Ankara and work is taking place for a trial venue at Sincan outside the capital.

“People are not going to be put on trial in just one place but trials will take place in all of Turkey,” he said.

Turkey’s Nato allies have expressed concern over the magnitude of the crackdown.

Ankara, which has come under fire for assisting Islamic State, insists that the rule of law is being observed. Turkey has also recently been accused of legalising sex with 15-year-old children.

Gulen, who has lived in self-exile in the United States since 1999, has denied that he was linked to the coup in any way.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Turkey demands answers after Swedish minister accuses country of legalising sex with children

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