Turkey’s parliament passed a bill on Saturday tightening government control over the judiciary, amid a violent brawl that left one lawmaker hospitalised.
Fists and insults flew between ruling party and opposition lawmakers as the bill was debated in a marathon 20-hour sitting.
When an opposition deputy called Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan a dictator, deputies from the leader’s party shouted back “are you drunk?”
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.
Opposition parties say the reform is a “government manoeuvre” aimed to stifle a graft investigation launched on Dec. 17 in which dozens of prominent business people, the sons of three cabinet ministers, and state officials were questioned.
“The government is in a great hurry, this shows how deep the corruption and bribe allegations are,” Oktay Vural MP for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said.
210 for, 28 against
Parliament resumed debate of the bill Friday despite uproar from opposition parties and the international community who warned it threatened the independence of the judiciary in the European Union hopeful country.
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 on Saturday morning with 210 votes in favour and 28 against.
CHP lawmaker Riza Turmen said his party would challenge the law, which still needs the president’s signature to come into force, before the Constitutional Court.