Opposition Reject Bid to Overhaul Law Body as Graft Roils Turkey

Opposition parties rebuffed attempts by Turkey’s government to win support for changes to a key judicial oversight body, as a wide-ranging anti-corruption investigation continues to roil the nation’s politics.

President Abdullah Gul met opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu for talks on government proposals to restructure the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, which appoints top court officials. Emerging from the meeting, Kilicdaroglu urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to withdraw the bill and stop blocking the graft probe. Gul is scheduled to meet two more opposition leaders later today.

Erdogan should “let the prosecutors do their jobs,” Kilicdaroglu said at a meeting with legal analysts in Ankara. “There will be no democracy in a country where the thief is protected.”

The planned amendments sent to parliament last week, which hand control of the board and much of its work to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, “clearly violate” the nation’s charter, the opposition leader said. If they are approved by lawmakers, the fight will end up in the Constitutional Court, he said.

Three sons of cabinet ministers and the chief executive officer of a state-run bank were among dozens detained last month by anti-graft teams. Since the arrests began, the Turkish lira has weakened 6.7 percent to become the worst performing currency among 24 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg.

The government has reassigned prosecutors leading the probe and dismissed almost 2,000 police officers since news of the 15-month secret investigations broke on Dec. 17, according to Hurriyet newspaper.

Many of the allegations target the massive public-works program that helped Erdogan prop up the economy and bolster an Islamic business class kept loyal from the profits of infrastructure projects.

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