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Turkish MPs May be Stripped of Immunity

  • VOA News

FILE - Turkish MPs and ministers attend a debate as the parliament reconvenes after a summer recess in Ankara, Oct. 1, 2015.

FILE - Turkish MPs and ministers attend a debate as the parliament reconvenes after a summer recess in Ankara, Oct. 1, 2015.

Punches and water were thrown during a Turkish parliamentary committee meeting late Monday night before a bill that would strip deputies of their immunity from prosecution was passed.

As the committee discussed the bill, which members of the pro-Kurdish opposition say is designed to target them and suppress dissent, fights broke out between members of the ruling AK party and the pro-Kurdish people's party (HDP). Witnesses say multiple deputies exchanged kicks and punches and some threw water at their opponents. The HDP subsequently withdrew from the meeting, allowing the three remaining parties to pass the bill.

The measure will now go to the full parliament for debate.

President Tayyip Erdogan, founder of the AKP, has called for prosecution of some HDP members, accusing them of being connected to the outlawed militant group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Currently Turkish lawmakers are immune from prosecution while in office. The police can file "dossiers" against politicians which may lead to a legal process only after their term in parliament has ended.

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