Turkish lawmakers brawl over judicial reforms

Opposition says reforms bill would give PM Erdogan's party more say over appointment of judges and prosecutors.

    Turkish lawmakers brawl over judicial reforms
    Erdogan's opponents view the reforms bill as an effort by the government to stifle a corruption scandal [EPA]

    Discussion of reforms to the judiciary have resulted in a brawl between members of the Turkey's governing AK party and main opposition People's Republican Party members in the parliament's justice commission. 

    Rival members of parliament started fighting on Sunday as the commission met for a third day to discuss a draft bill from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK party which would give it more say over the appointment of judges and prosecutors.

    MPs had also scuffled the day before when the head of a judicial union, Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu, arrived with a petition saying the bill would violate the constitution, as argued by opposition MPs, but was not allowed to speak, witnesses said.

    Erdogan has denied allegations that he is trampling on the constitution as the government battles a damaging corruption scandal. His opponents view the bill as an effort by the government to stifle the scandal which has already led to the resignation of three cabinet ministers.

    'No violation'

    Erdogan has cast the corruption investigation, which poses one of the biggest challenges to his 11-year rule, as an attempted "judicial coup" meant to undermine him in the run-up to local and presidential elections this year.

    He has responded by purging the police of hundreds of officers and seeking tighter control over the judiciary.

    The prime minister said on Sunday that the justice commission, more than half of whose members are from his AK party, had voted and concluded that the proposed reforms to the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) were legal.

    "The commission has done its work and has ruled that there is no violation of the constitution," he told reporters in Istanbul.

    The bill will now go to parliament's general assembly, where the AK party has a strong majority, before being passed to President Abdullah Gul for approval, he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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