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Police, Judiciary & Military Personnel Detained Over Turkey Coup

Turkish officials say that nearly 8,000 police officers have been suspended on suspicion of having links to the coup attempt at the weekend.

Some 6,000 members of the judiciary and military, including generals, have been detained.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to purge state bodies of the “virus” that had caused the revolt.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has stressed the importance of democratic rule. Speaking in Brussels where he has been meeting European foreign ministers, Mr Kerry said the US stood squarely on the side of the elected leadership in Turkey: “We will certainly support bringing perpetrators of the coup to justice – but we also caution against a reach that goes well beyond that.”

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that 208 “martyrs” had lost their lives during the failed coup attempt, including 60 police, three soldiers and 145 civilians. Another 1,491 were injured, he said. Twenty-four alleged coup plotters were killed, Mr Yildirim said – a smaller number than Turkish officials previously reported.

Three years ago when the AK Party government began its fight against Fethullah Gulen – a cleric in self-imposed exile in the US, who was a close ally of Mr Erdogan for years – it began with the police department. The government knew where to find Gulen supporters, in part because it had helped them to take positions within the police when they were still allies. When the fight against Gulen movement started thousands of police were moved sideways into roles where they would not harm the government.

Now, instead of being reshuffled, thousands of police personnel have been suspended from their duties. Obviously Mr Erdogan has little room for taking risks. In a country which also faces threats from so-called Islamic State and Kurdish militants in its big cities, and has been targeted by suicide bombs, it is difficult to predict what the result of these large-scale suspensions will be. But with these personnel or without them, it will take time for anyone in Turkey to feel safe.

More than 100 generals and admirals have been detained in raids across the country. The air force academy in Istanbul was raided on Monday morning.

According to state media, prosecutors have begun questioning an alleged ringleader of the coup attempt, former air force commander Akin Ozturk. Overnight and into Monday morning the suspended police officers were called to regional headquarters and forced to hand over their weapons, Hurriyet reports. Many provincial governors and judges have also been relieved of their duties.

The Turkish government accuses cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind the plot. Mr Gulen lives in the US and strongly denies any involvement. Mr Kerry said Turkey must produce evidence to support any extradition application for the cleric.

Eight Turkish military officers who fled to Greece by helicopter appeared in court in the Greek border city of Alexandropouli charged with entering the country illegally. Proceedings were adjourned until Thursday. Turkey has requested their extradition; they have applied for asylum in Greece.

Events in Turkey – a Nato member and key EU ally – were high on the agenda at the Brussels meeting. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, stressed the importance of the rule of law prevailing, and said ministers shared concerns about “what is happening in Turkey in these hours” – a reference to the rounding up of suspects. “We need to respect, have Turkey respect, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms,” she said. Turkey has a long-standing application for EU membership and Johannes Hahn is the commissioner in Brussels dealing with it. He said it appeared the Turkish government had pre-prepared lists of people to arrest before the coup attempt.

But the Turkish government says it was gathering evidence of a “secretive organisation” working within state structures even before the failed coup. President Erdogan told a crowd on Sunday that Turkey would consider reinstating the death penalty.

Capital punishment was abolished in 2004 as part of Turkey’s bid to join the EU. Nobody has been executed in the country since 1984. A spokesman for the German government said that the re-introduction of the death penalty would mean the end to Turkey’s EU accession negotiations.