Turkey puts UN court judge on trial over ‘coup links’
ANKARATurkey put a top United Nations court judge on trial on March 15 on charges of links to the group blamed for the failed July 15, 2016, coup, in a case that has caused anger and held up legal proceedings over the Rwanda genocide.
Aydın Sefa Akay, a top judge at the U.N.’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), was detained in September 2016, at his family home and has been held in detention since.
He is charged with “membership of a terror group” over alleged links to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which is widely believed to have orchestrated the thwarted coup.
Specifically, he stands accused by Turkish authorities of downloading and using a messaging app called ByLock, which came to prominence after it emerged that the members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) used it.
Akay and his lawyers took part in the first hearing at the Ankara criminal court. If found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in jail.
In his statement, Akay denied the charges, saying he was not a Gülenist.
“I am not one of them,” he said, while admitting to downloading ByLock but said he had not used any password to access the system.
“Not all who use the program are FETÖ members,” he also said.
Akay’s lawyers called for his release, arguing that he should enjoy immunity due to his status. But the court ordered he be kept under arrest, setting the next hearing for April 13.
Akay had been working with the U.N. international court trying suspects over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and his detention has paralyzed proceedings into an appeal hearing of former Rwandan Minister Augustin Ngirabatware. The U.N. court has already said Turkey has failed to comply with its obligations and said it would report Ankara to the U.N. Security Council.
Presiding judge Theodore Meron has insisted that Akay, a former diplomat who was nominated to the bench by Ankara, has diplomatic immunity and has repeatedly voiced concern over the conditions of his detention.