MPs come to blows over immunity bill in Turkey

Deputies engage in a second scuffle after a previous meeting on the bill was postponed last week over another fight.

Turkey parliament scufle
As punches and kicks flew, a few suited MPs launched themselves into the melee from a table [Courtesy Turkish media]

Turkish MPs have come to blows and thrown water at each other in parliament during talks about lifting members’ immunity from prosecution.

Members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the People’s Democracy Party (HDP), the pro-Kurdish opposition party, engaged on Monday in a second scuffle – with kicks and punches – after a previous meeting on the bill was postponed on Thursday over another fight.

The law, championed by the AK Party, would strip members of parliament of their legal immunity.

The HDP says the bill is targeting them and is aimed at suppressing dissent.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who founded the AK Party, has called for HDP MPs to face prosecution, accusing them of being an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

On Monday scores of deputies had crammed into a committee room to debate the bill when tempers flared and some deputies started shoving each other.

As the punches flew, a few suited MPs launched themselves into the melee from a table.

Several MPs hurt

Others threw water at each other and at least one person could be heard taunting opponents by shouting: “Come on, come on!”

Several MPs were hurt during the scuffle, Turkish media reported.

Turkish MPs are immune from prosecution while in office. The police can file “dossiers” against politicians, which can lead to a legal process once they cease to be a member of parliament.

Last week’s brawl delayed efforts to pass legislation related to Turkey’s deal with the EU to take “illegal migrants” in exchange for legal Syrian refugees.

That legislation was also left unfinished on Monday evening, as some AK Party MPs left the general assembly to join their colleagues in the clashes.

Turkey has been promised visa-free travel for its citizens to the EU and accelerated accession talks as part of the deal.

Source: News Agencies