UN court slams Turkey for jailing judge for seven years
THE HAGUE - Agence France-PresseA U.N. court condemned Turkey on June 15 for sentencing one of its top judges to seven years in jail on charges of having links to what the government and prosecutors call the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), accused of being behind the July 2016 coup attempt.
Retired ambassador Aydın Sefa Akay, a top judge attached to the U.N.’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, was sentenced in Ankara on June 14 to seven years and six months in jail, the MICT said in a statement.
MICT president Judge Theodor Meron “deeply regrets this action of the Turkish authorities, in further breach of Judge Akay’s protected status under the international legal framework,” the Hague-based tribunal said in a statement.
Akay’s arrest in September last year, his detention and a legal case against him “are inconsistent with the assertion of his diplomatic immunity by the United Nations,” the MICT said.
Akay was released under judicial supervision pending confirmation of the verdict by Turkey’s top appeals court.
The MICT stressed “the verdict has yet to acquire legal finality.”
Meron said although he welcomed “as a humanitarian matter that Judge Akay has been provisionally released,” he remains “gravely concerned.”
He called on Ankara to “take urgent steps to respect the protected status of Judge Akay and to resolve the situation consistent with international law.”
Akay was charged with “membership in an armed terror group” over alleged links to FETÖ, under the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, an ally-turned-nemesis of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
He had vehemently denied the charges, which had caused uproar among the international legal community.
The court found Akay guilty of using Bylock, an encrypted messaging application used by FETÖ members.
However, he was released pending the ruling from the supreme appeals court, a date for which has not been set. If the verdict is confirmed by the higher court, he will go back to jail.
The court also placed an overseas travel ban on Akay, meaning there is no prospect of him resuming his work with the U.N. courts system.