Ball once again in president’s court

Ball once again in president’s court

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Ball once again in president’s court

Fenerbahçe fans show their support for the club’s chairman Aziz Yıldırım in front of his poster. Yıldırım is under arrest in the Turkish football’s biggest investigatiopn into match-fixing allegation, along with 92 other football officials, players and coaches. AA photo

The law reducing penalties for match fixers, vetoed by President Abdullah Gül last week, was once again passed by Parliament late Saturday in a tense five-hour session. 

The debate in Parliament was a heated one and led to a deputy smashing his glass and hurling its pieces at rival deputies. All eyes have now turned to Gül, who is expected to re-examine the law and approve it in coming days. 

The law was passed with 284 votes, with only six opposed and one abstention, and was thus sent back to the president without any changes. According to the Constitution, Gül must approve laws that are sent back after a veto but can still take it to the Constitutional Court for annulment. Sources close to the presidency said Gül was unlikely to use his right to take the law to the top court. 
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was the only party to oppose the law, and BDP Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said the party pardoned “all sorts of theft, the robbery of labor and activities that are far from being refined.”

BDP Group Deputy Chairman Hasip Kaplan then took the stage and said AKP Group Deputy Chairman Nurettin Canikli’s name was in the indictment of match-fixing claims. 

Canikli responded that the indictment did not accuse him and asked Kaplan to clarify his claims, calling him a “terrorist of law.” Kaplan demanded an apology from Canikli for his comments and was interrupted by AKP deputies.

Kaplan took the water glass on the speech podium and smashed it in a fit of anger, then picked up shards of broken glass and hurled them in front of the rostrum.

Pieces of broken glass landed near Parliament stenographs as well as AKP deputies, cutting Kaplan’s hand. Önder immediately rushed to Kaplan’s side to calm him down while some AKP deputies came at Kaplan. BDP and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies swiftly broke up the fight.

AKP deputies demanded an apology from Kaplan, after AKP Group Deputy Chairman Mahir Ünal said Kaplan threw the glass at his face.

“I didn’t throw the glass at his face. I broke it out of anger. If I had thrown it at him, I would have aimed for his head,” said Kaplan.

The law was passed in the early hours of the morning after a five-hour session. Many deputies who had previously objected the law voted “yes” this time around. While the BDP clearly opposed the law, two deputies from the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also voted against it.

The law has sparked both political and public reaction for reducing the sentences of match fixers from between five and 12 years to between one and three years. The amendment will affect an ongoing prosecution of one of the most important rigging cases in the country’s history, which involves Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım and other senior football figures.