Part of controversial judicial bill to be ‘frozen’: Turkish PM Erdogan

Photo: Part of controversial judicial bill to be ‘frozen’: Turkish PM Erdogan / Turkey

The government will freeze some articles in a controversial bill reshaping the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Jan. 24, shortly after a government official mulled that the draft could be "suspended." Hurriyet Daily News reported

Erdogan, however, said the government had no intention of entirely withdrawing the bill and could submit the articles in question to the General Assembly once more if necessary.

"Withdrawing the bill on the HSYK is out of the question. We would have wished that the legislation on the HSYK could have been made through a constitutional amendment. I made my due call to the opposition. My deputy parliamentary group chairs have visited them. But no positive outcome came from there," Erdogan told reporters in Ankara in reference to the Justice and Development Party's (AKP) proposition last week to reach an agreement for a constitutional amendment, but the move was ultimately rejected by opposition parties.

"We will complete the vote on the Justice Academy. We will freeze the other parts of the law for now. But if there is a necessity, we could submit them again to the General Assembly in the future," he said.

Erdogan also said President Abdullah Gul, who intervened in the political impasse by meeting all the opposition leaders and striving for a consensual charter change, did not demand the government backtrack from the much-debated reform during a meeting on Jan. 23.

"We have extensively discussed this issue with the president. He has not made a demand to withdraw the bill," Erdogan said.

Shortly earlier, AKP deputy head Mustafa Şentop said the possibility of freezing the draft bill was being "assessed" after rumors spread on a weekend recess on parliamentary sessions, which would mean the suspension of debates on the controversial reform.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroglu said suspending the bill was the "right decision."

Debates at Parliament on Jan. 23 were marked by fresh brawls and fistfights. CHP deputy Bulent Tezcan was injured after being punched by AKP deputy Oktay Saral while he was making a speech questioning why Erdogan's son, Bilal Erdogan, had not testified as part of the graft probe.

Erdogan criticized the opposition over the fight, denouncing "provocations. "Saying these words against the prime minister from the stand of the General Assembly is a provocation. The cause provokes consequences. Everyone should avoid such provocations," Erdogan said.

The massive graft scandal, which was launched last month with raids implicating four ministers, produced a debate on the judiciary, as the government moved to increase its control over the key judicial body.

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