Tunisian judges extend strike over sackings

TUNIS, June 18 (Reuters) - Tunisian judges decided on Saturday to extend their national strike for a third week in protest against a decision by President Kais Saied to sack dozens of them, judges said.

Saied dismissed 57 judges on June 1, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists - charges that the Tunisian Judges' Association said were mostly politically motivated.

Judges suspended their work in courts on June 4 and said the president's decisions were designed to control the judiciary and its use against his political opponents.

“The judges decided unanimously to extend the strike for a third week ... to hold a day of rage in which the judges will protest in the streets in their uniforms," Mourad Massoudi, the head of the Young Judges Association, told Reuters.

He said members of judges had decided to stage a hunger strike against the decision to dismiss them. Another judge, Hamadi Rahmani, confirmed the decisions.

Saied's move heightened accusations at home and abroad that he has consolidated one-man rule after assuming executive powers last summer. He subsequently set aside the 2014 constitution to rule by decree and dismissed the elected parliament.

Saied says his moves are needed to cleanse the judiciary of rampant corruption and that does not aim to control the judiciary.

Reporting by Tarek Amara, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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