Govt-backed judicial nominees win Turkey vote

Some 14,000 judges and prosecutors voted for members of the High Board of Judges and Prosecutors council

Published: Updated:

Government-backed candidates won eight out of 10 seats in a top Turkish judicial body in an election on Sunday, election results showed, a victory for President Tayyip Erdogan in his battle against ally-turned-foe cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan accuses Gulen, living in self-imposed exile in the United States, of using influence in the judiciary and police to try to seize the levers of state power. Gulen denies the accusations.

The vote by some 14,000 judges and prosecutors for members of the High Board of Judges and Prosecutors council (HSYK) was seen as a critical to Erdogan's efforts to curb the power of Gulen's Hizmet, or service, movement.

The HSYK council, which has 22 members in total, is responsible for the appointments, transfers, promotions and expulsions of the country's top judicial figures. The two other winning candidates were close to Gulen, according to Hurriyet newspaper.

The president appoints four members of the council and combined with other government-backed appointees this would add up to 15 members viewed as sympathetic to the government.

None of the candidates nominated by a secularist association of judges and prosecutors won a seat, the election results showed.

Thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors have been purged or reassigned since December, when a high profile corruption scandal engulfed key members of the government and brought a feud between Hizmet, which was influential in the judiciary, and the AKP out into the open.

Erdogan, who is looking to create an executive presidency in Turkey, accuses Gulen of building a "parallel state" in the judiciary and police to unseat him.