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Turkey launches new purge of police force

About 470 are sacked or reassigned in Ankara alone as fallout from high-profile corruption scandal deepens.

Last updated: 22 Jan 2014 14:47
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Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan (L) has said the judiciary should not overstep its mandate [AFP]

Turkey has renewed a purge of the police and judiciary as its parliament debates controversial reforms that have heightened the crisis engulfing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Around 470 police were sacked or reassigned in the capital Ankara alone on Wednesday, according to NTV, a national news channel. The purges are the latest in the massive fallout from a corruption scandal targeting several top politicians and business leaders including Erdogan's political allies.

Those removed in the latest purge include five chief prosecutors and other senior figures who oversaw the trials against hundreds of top military officers convicted of plotting against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) removed 96 judges and prosecutors from their posts. In recent weeks, at least 2,000 police and prosecutors have been dismissed or reassigned in what critics have said is a government effort to stifle the corruption probe.

The judiciary should not go beyond its defined mission and mandate... Anything else is misinformation and disinformation.

Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

Dozens of people including the sons of ministers and the head of a state-owned bank were rounded up a month ago on allegations of bribery, money laundering, gold smuggling and illicit dealings with Iran.

Erdogan and his allies insist it is a "coup plot" by supporters of exiled Muslim leader Fethullah Gulen, a onetime AKP supporter, to destabilise the government ahead of March local elections.

The shakeups came as Erdogan, on a visit to Brussels to try to advance Turkey's EU membership bid, defended government moves to tighten its control of the judiciary despite major EU concerns.

The EU set Turkey's independence of the judiciary as a key criteria for membership into the EU, which Erdogan acknowledged in Brussels.

"The judiciary should not go beyond its defined mission and mandate. This is what we're doing. Anything else is misinformation and disinformation," Erdogan said at a news conference.

"Other modifications possibly will be made," he added, without elaborating. "But the law must come into force as quickly as possible."

Parliament was due to continue debating the bill on Wednesday. It calls for a greater government say in appointments at the HSYK, the country's top independent judicial body.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said he had urged Erdogan "not to backtrack on achievements and to assure that the judiciary is able to function without discrimination or preference, in a transparent and impartial manner".

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Source:
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