Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday night reaffirmed his readiness to reinstate the death penalty at a mass rally held in Istanbul to mark the first anniversary of a bloody coup attempt.

“If it comes to me after parliament, I will sign it,” the president told the rally on the Bosphorus Bridge, renamed July 15 Martyrs Bridge in the wake of the coup bid, echoing a refrain he has repeated time and again ever since.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Istanbul, marching to the Bosphorus Bridge where 36 people were killed by coup soldiers exactly a year ago, for the first of the speeches. The second was held before a large crowd at the Turkish parliament in Ankara to mark the moment during the coup when parliament was bombed by the plotters.

In a speech packed with religious references, Erdoğan said defendants in coup-related trials should wear a standard uniform “like in Guantanamo”, and warned that Turkey would “cut the heads off” traitors bent on destabilising the country. He also brandished the coup plotters as “unbelievers”.

In the crowd, some were seen holding nooses as they chanted “We want death penalty!”

The European Union has threatened to end Turkey’s accession bid if it moves to reintroduce the capital punishment that was abolished in 2004.