ANKARA, Turkey – Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Thursday chaired a top-level military meeting that is likely to lead to a major shake-up within the country’s armed forces following a failed coup by renegade military officers.
The Supreme Military Council, gathering top commanders of NATO’s second-largest army, met a day after Turkey discharged close to 1,700 officers – including 149 generals and admirals – suspected of involvement in the failed July 15 coup attempt. The council, which decides on promotions and retirements, was expected to announce more dismissals on Thursday. A senior Turkish official described the purges as “dishonourable discharge.”
Turkey declared a state of emergency following the violent coup attempt that led to 290 deaths, and embarked on a large-scale clampdown on people suspected of ties to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government accuses of masterminding the coup. Nearly 16,000 people were detained over suspected links to the failed uprising, and about half of them were formally arrested to face trial.
READ MORE: Turkey detains 47 more journalists, executives after failed coup
Tens of thousands of state employees have also been dismissed for alleged ties to Gulen, while schools, dormitories and hospitals associated with his movement have been closed down.
Authorities issued warrants for the detention of 89 journalists as the clampdown extended to the media. Dozens of media organizations – most of them also linked to Gulen – were ordered shuttered late Wednesday.
The media organizations include 16 television stations, 23 radio stations, 15 magazines, 29 publishing houses and 45 newspapers – including a Gulen-linked children’s television station and opposition daily Taraf.
Gulen, who lives in the United States and runs a global network of schools and foundations, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the coup attempt. Turkey wants the cleric extradited but the U.S. has told Turkey to present evidence against Gulen and let the U.S. extradition process take its course.
READ MORE: Turkish crackdown continues after 2 generals, former Istanbul governor detained
The military Council meeting was originally scheduled for the first week of August but was brought forward following the coup attempt. Its location was moved from the military headquarters to the prime minister’s office in a sign that the government aims to place the military under stronger civilian control.
Late Wednesday, the government issued a decree that removed the paramilitary police force and the coast guard from military command and placed them under the control of the Interior Ministry.
Turkish officials have said they believe the coup plot was put into force in haste before the Council in August, when many officers suspected of links to Gulen would have been discharged.
Elena Becatoros contributed from Istanbul.
BATON ROUGE, La. – Vice-President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch are scheduled to speak Thursday at a Baton Rouge vigil honouring the three law enforcement officers who were killed by a lone gunman during a shootout outside a convenience store.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and relatives of the slain officers also are expected to speak during the ceremony at Healing Place Church, where a funeral was held last Friday for 41-year-old Baton Rouge police officer Matthew Gerald.
Gerald, 45-year-old sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola and 32-year-old police officer Montrell Jackson were shot and killed July 17 by 29-year-old Gavin Long, an Army veteran from Kansas City, Missouri. Long also wounded three other officers before a SWAT officer gunned him down.
READ MORE: Shooting deaths of police officers in U.S. spike in 2016: report
Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Tullier was critically wounded and has remained in a hospital since the shooting.
Authorities said Long was targeting police when he ambushed the officers in Baton Rouge, where racial tensions had been mounting amid protests over a deadly police shooting. Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed during a struggle with two white police officers July 5.
Jackson, a corporal, was a 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department. He was married and had a 4-month-old son. Days before he was shot to death, Jackson posted a message on Facebook about the difficulties of being both a black man and a police officer in the tumultuous aftermath of Sterling’s shooting.
READ MORE: Baton Rouge shooting: Mother of gunman believes son suffered from PTSD
“Please don’t let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better,” wrote Jackson, whose funeral was Monday.
Garafola, whose funeral was Saturday, is survived by a wife and four children: sons ages 21 and 12, and daughters ages 15 and 7.
Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said Garafola “went down fighting,” with surveillance video showing him firing at the gunman as bullets hit the concrete around him.
Gerald was a former Marine and Army veteran who served three tours in Iraq before joining the police force nine months ago. His wife, Dechia Gerald – now a widow with two young daughters – called him “my blue-eyed rock” in a written tribute. She expressed hope that his legacy will “bridge the gap and foster peace in the country he lived, loved and died for.”
PARIS – The second man who attacked a Normandy church during a morning Mass this week, slitting the throat of the elderly priest, is a 19-year-old Frenchman from eastern France, the prosecutor’s office said Thursday.
An official in the prosecutor’s office said it was “very probable” that the man, identified as Abdel-Malik Nabil Petit Jean, was the same man pictured in a photo distributed to police services four days before the attack and obtained by The Associated Press. The information accompanying the photo of an unidentified man said the person pictured “could be ready to participate in an attack on national territory.”
UCLAT, an agency that co-ordinates the anti-terrorist fight, said it obtained the photo from a trusted source.
READ MORE: Here’s what we know about Normandy church attackers
Petit Jean and another 19-year-old, Adel Kermiche, were killed by police as they left the church Tuesday in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. An elderly man among the five people in the congregation was seriously wounded by knife slashes. One of three nuns present escaped and alerted police.
Petit Jean was born in eastern France, in Saint Die des Vosges, in eastern France, the prosecutor’s office said. He was identified via his DNA. Kermiche was from Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
A man detained after the attack was still being held for questioning, the prosecutor’s office said.
The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, which released a video Wednesday allegedly showing Kermiche and his accomplice clasping hands and pledging allegiance to the group.
READ MORE: ISIS claims responsibility for Normandy church siege that left priest dead
In it, Kermiche identifies himself by the nom de guerre Abu Jaleel al-Hanafi, and says Petit Jean is called Ibn Omar.
The UCLAT flyer to law enforcement said the person in the photo “could already be present in France and act alone or with other individuals. The date, the target and the modus operandi of these actions are for the moment unknown.”
The church attack came less than two weeks after an attack by a man barrelling his truck down a pedestrian zone in Nice, on the Riviera, that killed 84 people celebrating France’s national day.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack, too, as well as two attacks that followed in Germany.
Elaine Ganley contributed to this report.
OTTAWA – Canada sits on an enviable top-10 perch when it comes to quality of life around the world, but a new analysis points to significant disparity among its provinces and territories.
Albertans, for example, enjoyed a quality of life in 2014 comparable to that found in countries like Switzerland or Denmark, says a new report that seeks to replicate the United Nations human development index for Canadian regions.
At the other end of the spectrum, says the report released today, Nunavut would have had a quality of life similar to that of Latvia or Croatia.
Overall, Canada holds down the ninth spot on the 2015 UN index of 188 countries, which was based on 2014 data. It tied with New Zealand one slot below the United States.
READ MORE: Canadians’ quality of life ranks 2nd globally, according to 2016 Social Progress Index
By comparison, if Alberta had been stacked up against countries on the list, it would have landed in fourth place – the highest among Canada’s provinces and territories.
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Nunavut would have ended up 46th, the report says.
“Although most Canadian provinces and territories achieve impressive ranks in the international context, evidently Canada’s overall (human development index) masks substantial variation among the different regions,” said the paper by The Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
“Our report highlights the diverse human development experiences of Canadians.”
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The UN human development index is a frequently used tool that measures one country’s standing with another. It combines data on life expectancy, education and gross national income to produce a ranking of the UN’s member countries.
To replicate the index for provinces and territories, report author and economist James Uguccioni wrote that he used Statistics Canada data to ensure it was as consistent as possible.
The study also ranked B.C. as the top-ranked Canadian region for life expectancy, while Nunavut was last. Compared to UN countries, Nunavut was No. 103 for life expectancy.
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It also said Nunavut ranked last when it came to average educational attainment, while Yukon had the highest level.
Nunavut trailed in the category of expected years of schooling, in which Quebec was No. 1. Internationally, Nunavut was 107th.
For gross national income per capita, Northwest Territories was first and Prince Edward Island was last.
Here’s a rundown of where the provinces and territories would rank internationally:
– Alberta: 4
– Ontario: 8
– British Columbia: 11
– Saskatchewan: 12
– Quebec: 12
– Northwest Territories: 15
– Newfoundland and Labrador: 16
– Nova Scotia: 22
– Yukon: 22
– Prince Edward Island: 23
– Manitoba: 23
– New Brunswick: 25
– Nunavut: 46
TORONTO – A Toronto police officer who gunned down a troubled teen on an empty streetcar three years ago abused his authority in a way that undermines public trust in law enforcement and the justice system, a judge said Thursday in sentencing him to six years in prison.
In letting loose a second volley of shots on 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, Const. James Forcillo committed an “egregious breach of trust” and his sentence must serve as notice to other police officers that they should open fire “only as a last resort,” Justice Edward Then told a Toronto court.
The sentence “should not be taken to reflect adversely on the well-deserved reputation of the Toronto Police Service nor diminish in any way the respect and support individual police officers deserve for the dangerous and important work they do,” he said.
“However, when a police officer has committed a serious crime of violence by breaking the law which the officer is sworn to uphold, it is the duty of the court to firmly denounce that conduct in an effort to repair and affirm the trust that must exist between the community and the police to whom we entrust the use of lethal weapons within the limits prescribed by law.”
James Forcillo gets 6-year prison sentence for shooting Sammy Yatim
James Forcillo gets 6-year prison sentence for shooting Sammy Yatim
A timeline of the James Forcillo trial
Sammy Yatim’s mother reads statement following Forcillo sentencing
Yatim family says there is no sentence long enough to ease loss
Yatim family ‘hurt’ by Forcillo’s lack of remorse
‘Unreasonable, unecessary, excessive’: Judge’s description of Forcillo shooting of Sammy Yatim
‘The video doesn’t lie’: Lawyers for Yatim family hail benefits of shooting video
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Murmurs rippled through the packed courtroom as Then delivered the sentence. The disgraced police officer, wearing a dark suit, stood straight and stone-faced as he was handcuffed.
Yatim’s parents looked at Forcillo, then turned to one another in silence. But outside the courtroom, Sahar Bahadi, Yatim’s mother, said she remained outraged.
“He destroyed our family, he will destroy our lives,” she said.
“But he didn’t show any kind of remorse.”
“I am always angry. Since I lost my son, I am always angry. I have screams inside me and I have to control myself.”
Sammy Yatim. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook
THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook
His father, Nabil Yatim, said he hopes the ruling will bring about change so that no other family has to suffer as theirs has.
Yatim’s death on July 27, 2013, sparked public outrage in the city after a cellphone video of the shooting went viral.
Then cited that cellphone video as “powerful evidence” that what Forcillo said occurred on the streetcar that night did not actually happen.
The judge spent almost 90 minutes dissecting the evidence that came to light during the trial, delivering a series of stinging rebukes to Forcillo’s conduct, saying his actions constituted “a fundamental failure to understand his duty to preserve all life, not just his own.”
READ MORE: Ontario ombudsman urges changes in de-escalation techniques after Sammy Yatim shooting
Forcillo did not mistakenly believe that Yatim was getting up after being struck with a first volley of bullets, as the officer testified in court, Then found. Instead, he based his decision to fire again entirely on the fact that Yatim had managed to recover his knife, he said.
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Under police training, that alone would not justify shooting a suspect, the judge said. The second volley of shots was “not only contrary to (Forcillo’s) training, but unreasonable, unnecessary and excessive.”
What’s more, “at no time prior to the second volley did Officer Forcillo attempt to communicate with Mr. Yatim, notwithstanding that he had obviously been injured by the first volley,” he said.
“There was ample opportunity for Officer Forcillo to communicate with Mr. Yatim by engaging in verbal de-escalation or to issue commands in accordance with his training in order to allow Mr. Yatim to relinquish his knife.”
Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said an appeal has already been filed on the conviction and sentencing.
“It wasn’t how we saw the nature of the offence,” Brauti said.
Both sides were in appeal court later Thursday as the defence applied for bail pending appeal.
The defence argued that Forcillo should be granted bail because he wouldn’t be likely to reoffend, given that the conditions under which he shot Yatim would not be repeated. The appeal judge, Justice Eileen Gillese, said she would make her decision about bail by Friday morning.
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto police union, called the entire case a tragedy.
“We go out there and do our professional job each and every day, and this decision is under appeal,” he said. “This is a tragic day for the Forcillo family, the Yatim family – there will never be any good outcome from this, it’s tragic all around.”
After the sentencing, Toronto police suspended Forcillo without pay, according to spokesman Mark Pugash.
Police Chief Mark Saunders said in a statement that Forcillo still faces a disciplinary matter in the Toronto Police Service Tribunal, but declined to comment on the criminal case.
“The last three years have been difficult for everyone involved, including the families of Sammy Yatim and James Forcillo. The Toronto Police Service will continue to protect and support the public, and each other, and I am certain members will continue to do their jobs professionally and with respect,” he said.
READ MORE: ‘I will never forgive,’ Sammy Yatim’s mother tells Toronto cop’s sentencing
The outrage over Yatim’s death prompted Saunders’ predecessor to launch a review of officers’ use of force and their response to emotionally disturbed people.
Then rejected the defence’s assertion that Forcillo should not be subjected to the mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for the attempted murder conviction. But he also said the Crown’s request that the officer spend between eight to 10 years behind bars was “unreasonable.”
The judge said he took into account Forcillo’s overall “positive” character and lack of criminal record, and noted it was the only time the officer has fired his gun in his 3.5 years with the force.
That Forcillo will likely lose his job and will spend his time in prison in protective custody are also considered mitigating factors, Then said.
READ MORE: Forcillo case reveals shifting attitude toward police dealing with those in crisis
But he also found the aggravating factors – including that Forcillo failed to follow his training or use de-escalation techniques – “substantially outweigh” the mitigating factors.
Forcillo’s lawyers, who had argued for house arrest instead of a prison sentence, filed a constitutional appeal, arguing the mandatory minimum was never intended to apply to peace officers who legitimately carry a gun at the behest of the state in order to protect society.
Prosecutors argued the mandatory minimum is meant to apply to everyone and that police officers shouldn’t get special treatment.
They also argued that Forcillo’s case appears to be “among the most egregious examples of unjustified violence by a police officer in Canada.”
Forcillo had been out on bail since being charged, but was taken to a holding cell in the courthouse immediately after sentencing.