Erdoğan says supports reinstatement of death penalty for forest burners

President Erdoğan has said that he supports the introduction of the death penalty in Turkey for those setting fire to forests. Erdoğan's remarks came as he visited the fire-struck Marmaris in Turkey's southwest.

Duvar English

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested the reinstatement of the death penalty for those initiating forest fires, saying that the issue needs to be opened to discussion. 

Erdoğan made the comments on June 24 in the Aegean resort of Marmaris where a wind-stoked wildfire has been raging for the last four days.

“The person responsible for the fire has been arrested. Not only forests but also animals are sustaining a damage in this fire. A deterrent punishment [is needed], and I ask where this [punishment] leads to. To death sentence? It should be a death sentence. What does [Ottoman] Sultan Fatih say? 'I would decapitate that who cuts a tree from my forests.' This issue is that important,” Erdoğan said.

“This [issue] needs to be discussed, and we need to dwell upon this thoroughly,” he further said.

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002 and the parliament would first need to vote before Erdoğan can approve it.

Erdoğan also said that 47 people were affected by the fire in Marmaris and 19 of them were taken to hospitals for treatment.

Earlier on June 24, a court officially arrested a man who authorities said had “confessed” to having started the fire out of anger against family members.

Scenes of burning woodland near Marmaris since June 21 have sparked fears of a repeat of last year's fires that ravaged some 140,000 hectares across the region.

Erdoğan's government was criticized by local residents and opposition parties for being unprepared to fight last year's fires. It responded by saying the wildfires were the worst in Turkey's history.

Officials from Marmaris and the nearby resort Bodrum, both of which experienced the worst of the fires last year, have said the government is not sufficiently prepared this year either.