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Gov’t to overhaul top judiciary in possible attempt to gain more control

A new draft bill introducing amendments to the laws on the foundation and inner workings of the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State was submitted to Parliament for approval on Monday, raising concerns that the government will have more power over the judiciary.

If the new bill passes Parliament, the number of chambers in the Supreme Court of Appeals will drop from 46 to 24, half of which will be criminal chambers. Also the number of judges and prosecutors serving for the Supreme Court of Appeals, which is currently 516, will be reduced to 200.

The Council of State will be downsized to 10 chambers from 17, while the number of judges and prosecutors at the top judicial body will go down to 90 from 195. The memberships will be dropped within five days of the enactment of the law. Among those, some will be selected by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) to serve for the Supreme Court of Appeals and Council of State. Those who are not selected will be reassigned to regional or local courts depending on their degrees in profession.

The judicial members of both top courts will have tenure of 12 years. New candidates will take a verbal test in addition to written examination to become a judge or prosecutor.

In response to the draft bill, Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu, a former chairman of the Association of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV), commented on the social media that judicial members with ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are likely to keep their positions, while the others might be reassigned.

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