Turkey passes bill tightening control of judiciary
Members of parliament from the ruling AK Party and the main opposition Republican People's Party scuffle during a debate on a draft law which will give the government tighter control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors, at a parliamentary session in Ankara on February 15, 2014. [AFP]
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Turkey’s parliament on Saturday passed a contested bill giving the government more control over the judiciary, after violent scuffles broke out in the assembly, according to Agence France-Presse.
Fights began between ruling party and opposition lawmakers as the bill was debated in an overnight session, with at least one house member seen with a bloodied nose.
On Friday, Parliament resumed debating the proposed legislation despite protests from opposition parties and the international community when it was initially announced last month.
Turkey’s government is grappling with a high-level corruption scandal that has ensnared top allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since it began in mid-December.
High-level corruption scandal
The scandal, which involves allegations of bribery for construction projects as well as illicit trade with Iran marks the biggest challenge yet to Erdogan’s 11-year rule ahead of March local elections.
The judicial legislation is seen as Erdogan’s latest attempt to take control.
Erodogan says the graft probe is the result of a plot from political rivals, including powerful exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.
The Turkish premier has retaliated by sacking thousands of police and prosecutors running the investigation.
The new bill includes clauses that would give the justice minister the right to launch investigations into members of the top judicial body Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, and the right to command the topics discussed during the board’s meetings.
The law now awaits the signature of President Abdullah Gul - the former foreign minister in Erdogan’s party - to come into force.
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