Turkey referred to UN Security Council over detained judge
AMSTERDAM - ReutersTurkey is compromising the judicial independence of a United Nations war crimes tribunal by holding one of its judges in detention despite an order to release him, the court ruled, referring the matter to the U.N. Security Council.
The U.N. court had earlier ordered Ankara to release Judge Aydın Sefa Akay, a Turkish national who was detained last year on suspicion of involvement in the July 2016 failed coup attempt, which claimed some 240 lives.
Akay, a judge on the Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), had been due to hear a request to reopen the case of a Rwandan genocide convict when he became one of around 40,000 people to be detained in connection with the coup.
"Turkey's non-compliance materially impedes the Appeals Chamber's consideration of the merits of this case and threatens the independence of the Mechanism's judiciary," court president Theodor Meron said in a written ruling published on March 6.
The court, which is based in The Hague, said it had been unable to reach Akay.
The successor to tribunals that tried crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars and the Rwandan genocide, the court has no enforcement powers of its own. The U.N. Security Council can decide to pressure Turkey diplomatically or via sanctions or even force, though it very rarely acts in such cases.
Akay was detained over alleged links to the outlawed Fethullah Terror Organization (FETÖ) and attempting to change the constitutional order, and he was arrested by an Ankara court on Sept. 28 for using ByLock, a messaging app suspected to be among the main means of internal communication among the Gülenists.