ANKARA - Several brutal murders of children have sparked outrage across Turkey, prompting calls to bring back the death penalty and leading the government to stiffen sentences for child killers.
Turkey abolished capital punishment more than a decade ago as part of Ankara's bid to enter the European Union, but calls to bring it back have multiplied after the gruesome killings.
Yusuf Yigitalp, deputy leader of the Islamic Saadet (Felicity) Party, said scrapping the death penalty had sparked a surge in crimes and bringing it back was a "must".
"Today capital punishment is applied in Western countries. The death penalty is in place in the United States and in Europe for certain crimes," he told the conservative Milli Gazete newspaper.
Ankara abolished capital punishment in 2002 as part of reforms to aid its EU bid, enshrining it in its constitution two years later.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that reintroducing capital punishment was impossible if Turkey wanted to join the bloc and the government would instead work to ensure full-life sentences for child murders.
"These incidents are a kind of capital offence," Erdogan said on Friday.
"An aggravated life sentence is on our agenda even if we cannot reinstate (the death penalty)."
Aggravated murder in Turkey means full-life imprisonment.
String of vicious killings
The calls to reintroduce state executions come after several gruesome child murders.
In one, a six-year-old girl was stabbed, tortured and set on fire, according to preliminary police findings reported in local media.
The suspected murderer, described only as 20-year-old S.A., reportedly confessed to the crime, saying he had lured the girl into his car by saying they were going for a picnic before tying her up and attacking her.
"I closed my eyes and stabbed her. She fell down. I poured gasoline on her and lit it with a match. She started to scream," he was quoted as saying by the Hurriyet daily.