Turkish lawmakers brawl over judicial reforms

January 24, 2014 - 6:20:57 am

Members of parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (right) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party scuffle during a debate at a parliamentary session in Ankara yesterday.

ANKARA: A brawl erupted in the Turkish parliament yesterday as a heated debate on controversial judicial reforms turned nasty.

The deputy leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Bulent Tezcan, was injured and taken to hospital as fists flew in the assembly.

Media reports said the fracas flared after one lawmaker spoke about claims that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son had been summoned to testify as part of a major corruption probe rocking the government.

Parliament is expected to vote from late today on a bill aimed at giving the government greater control over the judiciary, a move that has raised concerns at home and abroad about the weakening state of democracy in Turkey under Erdogan.

His government has also sacked or reassigned hundreds of police and prosecutors in what is seen as a reprisal for the corruption investigation that has struck at the heart of the political 


In the latest move day, more than 160 officers were removed from their posts in the western metropolis of Bursa, a day after a similar shakeup in the main cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

Erdogan accuses an erstwhile ally, exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, of creating a “parallel” state to try to topple his government via loyalists in various institutions including the police and judiciary.

“Turkey is damaging itself with such a blinding quarrel,” Muharrem Yilmaz, the head of the country’s top business association, said of the feud between Erdogan and Gulen.