Turkey may bring death penalty back for people who start forest fires


A forest fire that started on Tuesday took more than three days to contain (Picture: Getty)

Turkey has threatened to reintroduce the death sentence for those who intentionally start forest fires.

The country has been fighting a vicious forest fire since it started near the Aegean coastal resort of Marmaris on Tuesday.

The blaze destroyed 11,119 acres of forest in the three days it took to be contained.

A suspect admitted to starting the fire over issues with his family after he was found in the forest with two gasoline cans, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

The death sentence was abolished in 2004 but now the Turkish government is talking about using it to scare people off burning forests.

On Friday President Tayyip Erdogan said the punishment for doing so should be ‘intimidating, and if that’s a death sentence, it’s a death sentence’.

His justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, has since said his department sees this comment as an ‘instruction’.

‘We have started working on it as the ministry,’ he said on Saturday.

An aerial view of burnt fields as cooling and extinguishing works continue after fires broke out in different places in forest in southern Turkey, Marmaris district of Mugla province.
The fire is contained now but it has destroyed 11,119 acres of land (Picture: Getty)
Volunteers and firefighters working as they battle a forest fire in Marmaris.
Some 88% of forest fires in Turkey are reportedly started by people (Picture: Getty)
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the press at the Fire Coordination Center in Marmaris district.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the consequences for arson need to be ‘intimidating’ (Picture: Getty)

Currently, the punishment for starting wildfires is 10 years in prison.

If the fire is started as part of organised crime, a terror operation for example, this could be a life sentence.

Turkey often struggles with wildfires during heatwaves in the summer and this has been exacerbated by climate change.

But the country’s forests often fall victim to intentional arson, some of which has been suspected terrorism.

Some 88% of the nations forest blaze’s are started with people, according to forestry minister Vahit Kirisci.

Turkey has its worst-ever fires last year, when 509,037 acres were completely destroyed in summer blazes.

At the time, the government was criticised for not being prepared enough.

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