Turkey passes Bill tightening control of judiciary: Parliament source

ANKARA (AFP) - The Turkish Parliament on Saturday passed a contested bill tightening government control over the judiciary, after violent scuffles broke out in the assembly, a Parliament source said.

Fighting erupted between ruling party and opposition lawmakers as the Bill was debated overnight, with at least one deputy seen with a bloodied nose.

Parliament on Friday resumed debate of the Bill despite an uproar from opposition parties and the international community when it was initially tabled last month.

Turkey's government is grappling with a high-level corruption scandal that has ensnared top allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since it erupted on December 17.

The scandal involving allegations of bribery for construction projects as well as illegal trade with sanctions-hit Iran marks the biggest challenge yet to Mr Erdogan's 11-year rule ahead of March local elections.

The Turkish strongman says the graft probe has been instigated by political rivals, including powerful exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

He has retaliated by sacking thousands of police and prosecutors running the investigation.

The judicial legislation is seen as Mr Erdogan's latest attempt to reimpose control.

It includes clauses that would give the justice minister the right to launch investigations into members of the top judicial body Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, and the right to dictate the topics discussed during the board's meetings.

The law now awaits the signature of President Abdullah Gul to come into force.

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