The judicial system consists of a republic-level Supreme Court as the highest court of appeal; 8 regional courts seated in regional capitals; and 55 local courts seated in some district capitals. The courts have begun to form specialized sections, including commercial, civil, and criminal branches.
The 13-member Constitutional Court reviews the constitutionality of laws as well as the constitutional questions of lower level courts and national and local government bodies. Until 2002, parliament nominated and the president appointed the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court judges, and parliament chose all other judges based on the recommendations from the Ministry of Justice. In 2002, however, parliament passed legislation creating a Judicial Council, composed of judges, law professors, and other legal experts, to nominate judges. All judges except those of the Constitutional Court are now appointed by the president from a list proposed by the 18-member Council. The president still appoints the Constitutional Court judges from a slate of candidates nominated by parliament.
The constitution declares the independence of the judiciary from the other branches of government. Judges are appointed for life, but Constitutional Court judges serve seven-year terms.
There is also a military court system, and appeals may be taken to the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.
Defendants in criminal cases have the right to free legal counsel and are guaranteed a fair and open public trial.