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Over 500 Purged Turkish Judges and Prosecutors Go to Top European Court

Over 500 Turkish judges and prosecutors have applied to have cases heard at Europe’s top rights court after they were caught up in the crackdown after the failed 2016 coup bid, the court said Monday.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said it had notified Turkey of applications from 546 judges and prosecutors protesting their provisional detention orders.

Those who applied were suspended, detained and then arrested in pre-trial detention on charges of being members of the group of U.S.-based Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is accused by Turkey of leading a terror group behind the failed July 15, 2016 coup that aimed to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen denies the charges.

The legal professionals lodged unsuccessful appeals with the Turkish constitutional court and the criminal proceedings against them are still ongoing, the ECtHR said.

The plaintiffs have based their applications in particular on article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) concerning their right to liberty and security.

The hugely controversial crackdown that followed the coup bid has led to a vast backlog of Turkish cases at the ECtHR as applicants run out of legal options in Turkey.

Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe (CoE), the pan-European rights body of which the ECtHR is part.

The CoE has expressed concern in the past that the court is being swamped by Turkish cases.

The ECtHR said it had informed Turkey of the 546 applications on May 17 and Ankara can now give its observations in writing. The court will then decide if the cases are admissable and give rulings in the coming months.

ECtHR rulings have frequently angered Turkey, causing strains for its membership within the CoE, notably in November last year when it called on Ankara to release jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas.

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