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Turkish lawmakers approve tighter controls on judges, prosecutors

Feb. 15, 2014 at 12:13 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The Turkish parliament approved a law Saturday that supporters say gives the government more control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors.

Approval came after an all-night debate on the contentious proposal -- punctuated by a brawl that left an opposition lawmaker with a bloody nose, Today's Zaman reported.

The bill, tabled in late January, was reintroduced Friday by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK). It restructures the board responsible for the appointment and promotion of judges, giving the justice minister the power to discipline members of the judicial system.

It would allow the justice minster to fire all of the board's administrative staff, including the secretary-general.

Opposition parties claimed the law would eliminate judicial independence. The Republican People's Party, the main opposition party, said Friday it would challenge the law before the Constitutional Court if it was approved by parliament.

A constitutional referendum in 2010 allowed the country's 12,000 judges and prosecutors to be democratically elected.

The reintroduction of the bill follows the arrest of allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a corruption investigation and the subsequent firing of hundreds of police officers, the BBC reported.

Turkey wants to join the European Union, but is under pressure to bring its judicial system in line with EU standards.

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