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Judicial council appoints controversial judge to Turkey’s top appeals court

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Turkey’s Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has appointed one of its former vice presidents and a former member to the country’s Supreme Court of Appeals, Turkish media reports said on Friday.

Former HSK Vice President Mehmet Yılmaz and former HSK member Hüseyin Şahin were assigned to the bench of the Supreme Court of Appeals, according to a decree in the Official Gazette after approval by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Yılmaz had failed in his bid to return to the HSK in a previous election.

When he was serving as the HSK’s vice president, Yılmaz admitted that the HSK had profiled 2,740 judges and prosecutors in advance and suspended them from office immediately after a failed coup on July 15, 2016.

“We had launched an initiative [to profile judges and prosecutors] back in 2014. Inspectors and prosecutor’s offices were in the process of conducting the investigation, and we were awaiting its completion. On the night of the coup, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office assessed the findings and issued a decision to take these judges and prosecutors into custody,” Yılmaz had told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

President Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched an all-out war on the Gülen movement following a Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption investigation that included ministers and Erdoğan’s family.  It turned into a witch-hunt following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Since the coup attempt, followers of the Gülen movement have been subjected to a massive crackdown, with the government and pro-government media outlets demonizing its members.

The government jailed thousands of people and removed more than 130,000 civil servants including some 4,500 judges and prosecutors from their jobs since the coup attempt due to alleged Gülen links.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the crackdown.

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