8 Jan 2011

Top Turkish judge rejects govt criticism

7:21 pm on 8 January 2011

A senior Turkish judge has rejected criticism by the government after a number of high-profile murder suspects were freed from prison.

Islamic militants convicted of killing 188 people were among those allowed to walk free after a new rule came into force limiting to 10 years the period suspects can be held before trial.

The released men were still waiting for their appeals to be heard.

The BBC reports hundreds of other potentially dangerous suspects could also be released under the same rule.

The government has blamed appeal court judges for failing to prioritise cases properly.

But the head of the supreme court Hasan Gerceker says this is unfair because the appeals courts are overloaded and last year they had a backlog of 1.5 million cases.