Turkish MPs pass judicial reforms amid brawl

15 February 2014 BBC Online
Turkish MPs pass judicial reforms amid brawl

Turkish MPs pass judicial reforms amid brawl

Turkish MPs have approved controversial plans to reform the country's top judicial body, amid a brawl which left one MP with a broken nose. The government wants the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors - the HSYK - to come under justice ministry control. The bill was debated overnight amid heated scenes which left one opposition MP with a broken nose.

Last month the judicial body said the plans were unconstitutional and would undermine its independence.

The plans were proposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party, which dominates parliament.

At one point during the debate a brawl broke out in which one MP from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) had his nose broken.

Opposition MP Ali Ihsan Kokturk had his nose broken in the brawl

Ozcan Yeniceri, an MP from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), also criticised the bill, saying it was aimed at impeding corruption inquiries and "meeting the needs of the AK Party", Reuters reports.

The reforms come after allies of Mr Erdogan were arrested in a major corruption inquiry, following which the government dismissed hundreds of policemen.

There is intense rivalry between Mr Erdogan and a former ally, Fethullah Gulen, who has many supporters in the police and judiciary. Mr Gulen is an influential Islamic scholar living in self-imposed exile in the US.

Judicial reform is a highly sensitive issue because Turkey is under pressure from the EU to bring its justice system into line with EU standards.

Turkey hopes to join the EU, but progress in the negotiations has been very slow.

The Islamist-rooted AK Party is trying to overhaul institutions such as the judiciary and armed forces, traditionally dominated by secularists loyal to the values of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish state.

The secularist CHP has said it will contest the plans in Turkey's Constitutional Court.


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