The first chamber of Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has replaced 780 judges and prosecutors under a summer decree, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, the presiding judge of a high criminal court in Manisa’s Akhisar district, Aytaç Ballı, who was hearing a trial involving the Soma mining disaster, was replaced just before a hearing.
A total of 301 miners died in an explosion at the mine in May 2014.
The replacement of Ballı, who was about to give the final verdict in the Soma trial, sparked criticism.
Ankara Batı Public Prosecutor Cihan Ergün, who interrogated Adil Öksüz, one of the prime suspects in a failed coup attempt last July, was appointed as Kırıkkale public prosecutor.
The name of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) was changed to HSK and its number of members was dropped to 13 from 22 after a constitutional referendum on April 16 declared the “yes” campaign as the winner with 51.4 percent of the votes, paving the way for the country to shift to an executive presidency.
The Turkish government is being widely criticized for taking the judiciary under its control and imposing pressure on its members to make politically motivated decisions. The government has removed thousands of judges and prosecutors from their posts on coup charges since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.