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Man accused of attacking students with machete appointed prosecutor in Turkey

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A man who was filmed attacking students with a machete during a violent clash at a university in 2017 has been appointed as a prosecutor in Turkey, a move that has sparked outrage and raised concerns about the rule of law in the country.

Süleyman Doğruöz, who was a member of the far-right Idealist Hearths (Ülkü Ocakları) youth movement at the time of the attack, was seen wielding a machete in a photograph that circulated widely on social media. He was never charged with any crime in connection with the incident.

Doğruöz’s appointment as a prosecutor was announced in the Official Gazette on Wednesday. He is one of 1,044 new judges and prosecutors who were appointed by the Justice Ministry and is assigned to the Ceyhan district in Turkey’s southern Adana province.

The appointment of Doğruöz is the latest in a series of controversial appointments by the Turkish government. In recent years the government has appointed a number of judges and prosecutors who have been accused of human rights abuses or who have expressed support for the government’s crackdown on dissent.

The Turkish judiciary faces widespread criticism for its perceived lack of independence. Critics accuse Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of exerting control over the judiciary and establishing one-man rule in the country, particularly after a coup attempt in 2016, following which he launched a massive crackdown on non-loyalist citizens and the country’s subsequent transition to a presidential system of governance, which granted him vast powers.

Following the coup attempt in 2016, the Turkish government summarily removed some 4,000 judges and prosecutors from their jobs.

Many experts and observers said the post-coup purges had a chilling effect on the remaining members of the judiciary.

Erdoğan’s government has also been accused of replacing the purged judicial members with young and inexperienced judges and prosecutors who have close links to the ruling AKP.

In a development that confirmed the erosion of the Turkish judiciary, Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the 2023 Rule of Law Index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in late October, dropping one place in comparison to the previous year.

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