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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK

World: Europe

Turkish parliament supporting court reform

The Turkish parliament, in a first round of voting, has given its consent to a government bill to remove military judges from state security courts.

The Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is currently on trial in such a court, facing a possible death sentence for treason.

European judges and human rights groups have criticised the composition of state security courts, saying the army's influence stops them being independent and unbiased.

Parliament is expected to vote finally on the bill on Friday.

If it is passed, the colonel who is one of the three judges trying Mr Ocalan would be replaced by a civil judge. Mr Ocalan's defence lawyers have said they intend to challenge the status of the court as a key part of their case.

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