Turkey fires scores of judges and prosecutors

February 12, 2014 - 6:16:20 am


ISTANBUL: Turkey’s government yesterday removed 166 prosecutors and judges as it stepped up a purge of the judiciary in response to a high-level graft probe, local media reported. Those sacked included senior prosecutors in the capital Ankara, Istanbul and the western city of Izmir, the Hurriyet daily said on its website.

Since the scandal broke in mid-December, the government has sacked thousands of police -- some 6,000 nationwide according to media estimates -- prosecutors, judges and senior lawyers involved in the investigations into alleged money laundering, gold smuggling and bribery. A further 85 senior police officers were sacked in Istanbul this week alone.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused supporters of exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, who wields influence in the judiciary and police, of launching the probe as part of a “coup plot” against his government in a crucial election year.

But the purges, coupled with legislation aimed at increasing government control on the judiciary and the Internet, have raised deep concern at home and abroad about the state of democracy in the country.

Israeli air strikes in Gaza, no casualties

GAZA CITY: Israel carried out two air strikes overnight Monday in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip following what the Israeli army said was a Palestinian rocket attack.

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians reported any casualties.

The first raid targeted a training camp of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, near the Nuseirat refugee camp in the centre of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security sources said. The second raid struck in the northern part of the strip near the community of Beit Lahiya, the security sources said.

An Israeli army spokesman said “a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council” before midnight.

“In retaliation the IAF (Israeli Air Force) targeted an underground rocket launcher in the central Gaza Strip and a terror site in the northern Gaza Strip,” he said. A Palestinian militant was critically wounded on Sunday when an Israeli air strike hit central Gaza. The army said it targeted a “key” figure responsible for cross-border rocket fire.AFP