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Three Judges Suspended in Turkey's Top Judicial Board

Turkey’s top judicial board has suspended three judges, including two for making controversial decisions to release suspects, including Samanyolu television chairman in a "parallel state" case until investigations against them are finalized.

 The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, or the HSYK, suspended Metin Ozcelik, judge of the Istanbul 29nd Penal Court of First Instance and Mustafa Baser, judge of the Istanbul 32nd Penal Court of First Instance, in the "parallel state" case.

Another judge, Habil Kahraman, was suspended for releasing three policemen accused in a separate “illegal wiretapping” case related to the “parallel state” probe.

The head of the board’s second chamber, Mehmet Yilmaz, said: “The presence of a judge, who decides contrary to the mandatory provisions of the law, will be a disaster for the public order, security and dignity of the law.”

Earlier Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the judicial action that attempted to release the suspects. “This is a direction from Pennsylvania," he added, referring to the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen's "parallel state" movement based in Turkey.

On Saturday, the Istanbul 32nd Penal Court of First Instance's judge, Mustafa Baser, attempted to release Samanyolu Media Group chairman Hidayet Karaca and 75 others, including some police chiefs, in the "parellel state" case.

Following the decision, Istanbul's 10th Penal Court of Peace declared the decision null and void.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Sunday that the Istanbul court had "illegally" attempted to release detainees picked up in the Dec. 14 police operation, which came as part of what the government describes as the "parallel state" probe.

"They attempted a coup yesterday in jurisdiction," Davutoglu said. 

On Dec. 14, 2014, a police operation was launched against senior media figures and police officers in 13 provinces across Turkey for allegedly being affiliated with what the government describes as the "parallelstate," a purported group of bureaucrats embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and the police.

In March, the judicial board launched an investigation into claims that certain judges and prosecutors formed a "parallel judicial power" within the country's judiciary as extensions of the "parallel state structure."

Kenan Ipek, Justice Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, or HSYK, said in a written statement on March 14 that an office of the board had opened a file to investigate the claims.

The Turkish government has long held that an alleged "parallel state" of Turkish bureaucrats and senior officials are embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and the police, and plotting to undermine it. The “parallel state” refers to Gulen and his so-called Gulen movement, which has been under intense scrutiny in Turkey.

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