Turkey minister Soylu tells police to break drug dealers’ legs

Turkey minister Soylu tells police to break drug dealers' legs

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Large quantities of Afghan heroin reach Turkey via Iran

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has been criticised for saying police should break the legs of drug dealers who are seen outside schools.

The Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) and secular opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet both accused Mr Soylu of incitement to commit a crime.

He pledged to take the blame for it.

“If a dealer is near a school the police have a duty to break his leg. Do it and blame me. Even if it costs five, ten, twenty years in jail – we’ll pay.”

He was speaking at a public meeting on security, at a hall in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

He said the security forces’ seizure of 20 tonnes of heroin in 2017 had made it a record year for drug hauls.

He said Turkey must fight drug dealers just as it fights the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“What we are doing to the PKK terrorists we must also do to drug dealers – no one can poison our future. What the security officer does is my responsibility.”

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Media captionTurkey stopped a huge heroin shipment in June 2017

A 2017 report by the EU’s European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction says Turkey is a key transit country for gangs smuggling heroin to Europe from Afghanistan.

The report, citing figures for 2015, said methamphetamine was also a growing problem in Turkey, including ecstasy (MDMA) pills that came from the Netherlands and Belgium.

Drug-related offenders account for about 20% of the Turkish prison population, and their numbers are growing, the report said.

In recent years Turkish security forces have also destroyed marijuana plantations in some southeastern areas where the Kurdish separatists have strong support.

Turkey has been fighting a Kurdish insurgency in its south-east for decades.

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