Istanbul (The Times Groupe)- Following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mention of the death penalty in connection with this week’s wildfires, Turkey will reconsider a 2004 decision to abolish capital punishment.
In the early years of Erdogan’s rule, capital punishment was struck from the constitution. Erdogan said tougher justice was needed after a fire destroyed 4,500 hectares (11,119 acres) of Aegean coastal forest.
The suspect detained in connection with the fire has admitted causing it, according to authorities. Authorities say the blaze near Marmaris has been contained.
On Friday, Erdogan said the punishment for burning forests should be “intimidating, and if that’s the death penalty, then it’s the death penalty.”
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters in the eastern town of Agri on Saturday that the president’s remarks are “instructions.”
“That’s something we’re working on as a ministry,” Bozdag said, adding that the current punishment for starting wildfires is 10 years in prison, rising to life in prison if the fire is part of organized crime.
As the country’s first big fire of the summer began on Tuesday, it brought back memories of last year’s fires, which destroyed 140,000 hectares of countryside.
According to Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, the detained suspect admitted burning down the forest out of frustration over family problems.
Authorities lack the equipment and personnel to deal with another summer of fires, officials told Reuters recently.
In Turkey, 88 percent of forest fires are started by people, according to Turkish Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci.