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Poland's Top Judge Defies Retirement Law

The president of Poland's Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, arrives for work at the Supreme Court building in Warsaw on July 4.

The head of Poland's Supreme Court has showed up at work in defiance of a controversial law that lowered the retirement age of the court's judges.

Malgorzata Gersdorf arrived at the court in Warsaw surrounded by hundreds of supporters, saying, "My presence here is not about politics, I am here to protect the rule of law."

Gersdorf, 65, has been told to step down, but she insisted that under the constitution she should remain in her post until 2020.

An outspoken critic of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Gersdorf has branded the reforms requiring judges to retire at 65 instead of 70, a "purge."

The European Union launched legal action against the Polish government earlier this week, saying the legislation undermined judicial independence.

But the right-wing government says the reforms are needed to tackle corruption and overhaul the judicial system.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on July 4 defended the changes at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, saying, "Every EU country has the right to develop its judicial system according to its own traditions."

Protests against the reforms were held in several Polish cities late on July 3.

Based on reporting by the BBC, AFP, and Reuters