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Investigation launched into 192 judges and prosecutors

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The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into 192 judges and prosecutors as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government accuse of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has suspended 191 judges and prosecutors who are still in their jobs, the Hürriyet daily reported on Thursday.

The investigation was one of the final phases in a series of governmental moves targeting the judiciary following the coup attempt.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced in a statement on Nov. 10 that the HSYK had expelled 3,456 judges and prosecutors over links to the Gülen movement since July 15. According to the Turkey Purge website, 3,843 prosecutors and judges have been purged by the government in the same period of time.

The purge in the judiciary was followed by the appointments of new judges and prosecutors, which was criticized by the opposition as a governmental move to take the control of the judiciary.

The HSYK on Tuesday appointed 3,940 judges and prosecutors to judicial and administrative institutions. There are 14.661 prosecutors and judges working as part of the Turkish justice system.

Justice Minister Bozdağ on Aug. 17 announced a government plan to name 8,000 new judges and prosecutors by the end of 2016.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Despite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and the movement having denied the accusation, Erdoğan called the coup attempt “a gift from God,” and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

More than 120,000 people have been purged from state bodies, nearly 80,000 detained and some 40,000 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian.

“Jailing judges without even the pretense of due process will cause profound damage to Turkey’s justice system for years to come,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director at Human Rights Watch, in August.  “Bypassing the rule of law is no way to protect it.”

Critics argue that lists of Gülen sympathizers were drawn up prior to the coup attempt.

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