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Anti-graft watchdog criticizes Turkey for vote that rejected corruption trial for 4 ministers

FILE - In this May 5, 2014 file photo, former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan speaks at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey. Turkey’s parliament is preparing to vote on corruption allegations Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 against four former cabinet ministers, in what could be the final chapter of a graft investigation that once seemed to threaten the inner circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File)

FILE - In this May 5, 2014 file photo, former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan speaks at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey. Turkey’s parliament is preparing to vote on corruption allegations Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 against four former cabinet ministers, in what could be the final chapter of a graft investigation that once seemed to threaten the inner circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File)  (The Associated Press)

An anti-graft organization has criticized a vote in Turkey's parliament that rejected motions to send four former ministers implicated in a vast corruption scandal to trial by the country's highest court.

The ruling Justice and Development Party used its parliamentary majority to sweep away a corruption investigation that had rocked Turkish politics in 2013 and forced the ministers to step down. The four votes, however, were closer than expected Tuesday.

The Berlin-based Transparency International watchdog said Wednesday the votes had taken "the culture of political impunity to a dangerous new level" and raised questions about Turkey's willingness to tackle corruption.

Turkey, along with China and Angola, are all perceived as increasingly corrupt despite their strong economic growth in recent years, according to Transparency International's 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.