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Polish president appoints new judges in the face of European criticism

Poland's President Andrzej Duda swore in 27 new Supreme Court judges as part of a judicial overhaul, the Associated Press reported, defying another court's order that the appointments be delayed pending a ruling by EU judges.

Duda appointed the judges to the civil and penal chambers of the court as well as the new chamber of extraordinary control, the president's top aide, Pawel Mucha, told the AP.

The new justices replaced Supreme Court judges who were forced to resign after the ruling Law and Justice party passed new legislation lowering the mandatory retirement age to 65 from 70.

The EU's executive branch has reached out to the European Court of Justice on these developments as it awaits a decision from the EU court, according to the AP report. Courts in some EU states have suspended extraditions to Poland, questioning the independence and fairness of the country's judicial process.

Critics reportedly said the legal changes put Polish courts under the ruling party's political control and are unconstitutional, while the Law and Justice party argued that judges who were active during the communist regime had to be replaced to ensure that the courts act freely and fairly.