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Turkey’s top court opens the way for purged civil servants to practice law

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court said on Friday that former public servants who were dismissed from their jobs by government decrees after a 2016 coup attempt and acquitted by a court or never prosecuted could once again practice law.

The top court ruled on the individual applications of former state officials Tamer Mahmutoğlu and Mehmet Bayhan, who were prevented from practicing law after an appeal filed by the Turkish Justice Ministry.

Bayhan, a former prosecutor, was acquitted by a court after being charged with membership in a terrorist organization. Mahmutoğlu, fired from his job at the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (BTK), was never prosecuted.

They later were registered as lawyers by local bar associations, but the Justice Ministry brought the matter to an administrative court, which canceled their professional licenses.

The Constitutional Court said the administrative court’s verdict was a violation of their rights.

Dozens of purged civil servants were denied the ability to practice law after the coup attempt as previous high court verdicts deemed the legal profession part of the civil service.

Turkey has purged some 140,000 former state officials over charges of alleged terrorism since the failed coup. Many of them were prosecuted and jailed.

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