Turkey’s Parliament Brawls While Debating Corruption Probe

Second fight this year as government attempts to tighten control of judiciary

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The ruling party lawmakers, right, and the members of the main opposition fight each other after a brawl broke out in Turkey's parliament

Members of Turkey’s parliament got into a brawl on Thursday while debating a corruption scandal that has rattled the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leaving an opposition legislator hospitalized after a punch to the face.

The lawmakers were due to resume a discussion on a draft bill that aims to tighten the government’s control over the courts, as it continues to fight the corruption probe that has led to hundreds of police officials and dozens of prosecutors being removed from their positions. It’s the second fight to have broken out in Turkey’s parliament this month.

During Erdogan’s visit to Brussels this week, the European Union warned his bill, which would give authority over prosecutors and judges to the executive branch, would undermine the independence of Turkey’s judiciary.

The prime minister stayed firm on his position, insisting the bill wouldn’t amount to a separation of powers. “The judiciary should not go beyond its defined mission and mandate,” he said. “When one power starts interfering with another power, this country loses its quality of democracy.” Erdogan said the bill would force some of the judges in his country to act more independently than they currently do.

The opposition fled the chamber in protest at the violence and the debate was postponed until Friday.