38,000 inmates to be freed as Turkey makes room for coup suspects

Turkey will release 38,000 prisoners in a move that will make room in jails for the thousands arrested since last month's failed coup.

The release of the 38,000 prisoners will be conditional and is not an amnesty, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Wednesday on Twitter.

The decree excludes anyone arrested after the July 15 coup attempt, and only includes those whose crimes were committed before July 1.

Bozdag insisted that the conditional release was for inmates who had two years or less remaining on their sentences, and who had displayed good behaviour, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Those convicted of serious crimes such as murder, domestic violence, sexual abuse or crimes against the state would be excluded, Anadolu wrote.

Some inmates had already been released, broadcaster CNN Turk reported, without providing further details.

Such decrees coming direct from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been possible after he declared a three-month state of emergency on July 20.

Turkey's prisons are dangerously overcrowded since the attempted coup. According to official figures, more than 17,000 are in custody for their alleged connections to the coup plotters. They include businessmen, judges, prosecutors, civil servants, police and soldiers.

Erdogan has issued a decree dismissing more than 2,000 police officers and more than 100 members of the security forces. They were accused of ties to the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the coup attempt.

Gulen lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, and has denied any involvement in the coup.

Turkish authorities also detained 24 people following a court order to shut down Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish newspaper, according to the company's lawyer, Ozcan Kilic.

The detained individuals were journalists and supporters of the paper and several arrest warrants have been issued, Kilic told dpa Wednesday.

Ozgur Gundem, which publishes in the Turkish language, is focused largely on issues related to the Kurdish minority in Turkey and the conflict between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the state.

The Istanbul court accused Ozgur Gundem of being a propaganda organ of the banned group and closed it on a temporary basis, without specifying the time frame.

Last update: Wed, 17/08/2016 - 15:43
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