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Turkish parliament passes judicial reforms... despite broken bones and bloody noses

Fighting erupted overnight between ruling party and opposition lawmakers as the bill was debated in a marathon 20-hour sitting.

Image: AP Photo

TURKEY’S PARLIAMENT HAS passed a bill tightening government control over the judiciary— despite lawmakers violently scuffling.

Fighting erupted overnight between ruling party and opposition lawmakers as the bill was debated in a marathon 20-hour sitting.

Ali Ihsan Kokturk, lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), got a bloodied nose in the brawl, while ruling party lawmaker Bayram Ozcelik’s finger was broken.

The opposition says the reform is a “government manoeuvre” to limit fallout from a graft probe that has ensnared top allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The law is an apparent indicator of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) attempt to cover the corruption investigation by redesigning the judiciary,” CHP lawmaker Aykan Aydemir told AFP.

Parliament resumed debate of the bill Friday despite an uproar from opposition parties and the international community who warned it threatened the independence of the judiciary in the European Union hopeful country.

Turkish parliament passes judicial reforms... despite broken bones and bloody noses
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  • Parliamentary Fight

    Source: AP Photo
  • Parliamentary Fight

    Source: AP Photo
  • Parliamentary Fight

    Source: AP Photo
  • Parliamentary Fight

    Source: AP Photo
  • Parliamentary Fight

    Source: AP Photo
  • Parliamentary Fight

    Source: AP Photo

The reform package gives the justice ministry greater sway over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), an independent body responsible for appointing members of the judiciary.

It would change the make-up of the HSYK and give the justice minister the right to launch investigations into its members.

The measures were passed this morning with 210 votes in favour and 28 against.

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Meanwhile, Turkish anti-riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at Kurdish protesters calling for the release of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan as the demonstration turned violent.

Some 100 Kurdish protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the police in the southeastern, Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir, after a major demo marking the anniversary of Ocalan’s 1999 capture by Turkish agents.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannon.

- © AFP, 2014

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