Turkey court partly annuls judiciary law

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has annulled part of a controversial judiciary law tightening the government’s control over the judiciary.

The court on Friday overturned as unconstitutional sections of the reform plan that gives the Turkish justice minister greater control over the appointment of prosecutors and judges.

It also overturned parts of the law that allowed the justice minister to investigate prosecutors of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), Turkey’s highest legal body responsible for appointing members of the judiciary.

The ruling came in response to an appeal by an MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) who said the plan violated the principles of the separation of powers and the independence of courts.

CHP Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrikulu welcomed the ruling and said “with its recent decisions, the Constitutional Court has turned into a body championing freedoms.”

Tanrikulu was also referring to the court’s ruling on April 1 that ordered a ban imposed by the government on Twitter had to be lifted as it “violated Article 26 of the Constitution safeguarding freedom of expression.”

But Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag expressed disagreement with the Friday ruling, and insisted that the legislation was constitutional.

The reform plan introduced in January is seen as one of the retaliatory measures taken by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK party in the wake of a graft scandal that hit Erdogan’s key allies.

The bill was signed into law by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in February despite an outcry by civil rights groups who warned that the reforms limit the independence of the HSYK, which oversees the judiciary.

MRS/AB

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