Turkey's parliament brawls, passes law to rein in courts

On Saturday, Turkey's parliament passed a law giving the government more control over the body which appoints senior members of the judiciary. The issue has divided the ruling party and the main opposition party, and brought politicians to blows Friday night.

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    Turkish legislators from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party and the main opposition Republican People's Party brawl during a tense all-night debate over a controversial law on changes to a council that appoints and overseas judges and prosecutors, in Ankara, early Saturday, Feb. 15.
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Turkey's parliament approved a law giving the government more control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors on Saturday, after heated debate and a brawl in which an opposition member of parliament was hospitalized.

The battle for control of the Higher Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the body which appoints senior members of the judiciary, lies at the heart of a feud between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen

Gulen, whose followers say they number in the millions, has built up quiet influence in the police and judiciary over decades. Erdogan blames him for unleashing a corruption investigation he sees as designed to unseat him.

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The decision to approve the law came after a night of heated debate and a brawl that left one opposition member of parliament with a bloody nose. Local media reported that Ali Ihsan Kokturk, MP for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), was hospitalized with a broken nose.

CHP said on Thursday that it would appeal the HSYK bill to the Constitutional Court if it was approved in parliament.

Reporting by Gulsen Solaker and Tulay Karadeniz, writing by Dasha Afanasieva

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