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Turkish MP Hospitalized After Brawl

Legislators from Prime Minister Erdogan's ruling party and main opposition Republican People's Party brawl during tense all-night debate, Ankara, Feb. 15, 2014.
An opposition member of the Turkish parliament was left with a bloody broken nose requiring hospitalisation after a heated debate and a brawl over a law that tightens Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's grip on the judiciary.

Turkey's parliament approved a law boosting government control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors on Saturday, after a heated debate and a brawl that left one opposition lawmaker hospitalized.

Dozens of MPs took part in fights during the tense 20-hour debate and insults flew across party lines. When an opposition deputy called Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan a dictator, deputies from the leader's party shouted back "are you drunk?"

The battle for control of the Higher Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which appoints senior members of the judiciary, lies at the heart of a feud between Erdogan and influential U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen, whose followers say they number in the millions, is believed to have built up influence in the police and judiciary over decades and leads a powerful worldwide Islamic movement from a forested compound in the United States.

Erdogan, head of the ruling AK Party, blames him for unleashing a corruption investigation he sees as an attempted "judicial coup" designed to undermine him in the run-up to local and presidential elections this year.

Opposition parties said the HSYK bill aimed to stifle a graft investigation launched on December 17 in which dozens of prominent business people, the sons of three cabinet ministers, and state officials were questioned.

The decision to approve the HSYK law came after a night of fierce debate and a brawl which left MP Ali Ihsan Kokturk, from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), with a bloody broken nose requiring hospitalisation and an AKP deputy with broken fingers, local media reported.