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Published: Friday April 11, 2014 MYT 5:17:37 PM
Updated: Friday April 11, 2014 MYT 5:17:37 PM

Erdogan suffers blow in court decision on judiciary

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's Constitutional Court annulled parts of a law tightening government control of the judiciary on Friday, dealing a blow to a reform critics saw as part of a bid by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to suppress a corruption scandal.

The court said in a statement it had cancelled articles granting the justice minister powers over the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which makes judicial appointments.

Erdogan has been battling a graft scandal since police raids in December targeted businessmen close to him and the sons of ministers. He has removed thousands of police and judiciary officials from their positions in what he characterises as a campaign to root out a subversive 'parallel state'.

The Prime Minister accuses U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally whose network of followers wields influence in judiciary and police, of orchestrating a plot to unseat him.

The main opposition Republican People's Party asked the court to overturn the law in February, saying it violated the principles of separation of powers and independence of courts.

Erdogan's ruling AK Party dominated municipal elections at the end of March despite the corruption scandal.

(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker and Orhan Coskun; Writing by Daren Butler; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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