First Published: 2017-06-15

UN court condemns Turkey over judge jailed for 'coup link'
Retired ambassador Aydin Sefa Akay sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of links to group blamed for last year's attempted coup.
Middle East Online

MICT president Judge Theodor Meron deeply regrets Turkey's actions

GENEVA - A UN court condemned Turkey on Thursday for sentencing a top judge to seven years in jail on charges of links to a group blamed for last year's attempted coup.

Retired ambassador Aydin Sefa Akay, a top judge attached to the UN's Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, was sentenced in Ankara on Wednesday to seven years and six months, 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 was charged with "membership in an armed terror group" over alleged links to the organisation of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher blamed by Ankara for the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last July. Gulen denies any involvement in the botched coup.

Akay has vehemently denied the charges against him, which caused an uproar in the international legal community.

His 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.

He has been released under judicial supervision pending confirmation of the verdict by Turkey's top appeals court, and the MICT stressed "the verdict has yet to acquire legal finality".

Meron said he remained "gravely concerned", although he welcomed "as a humanitarian matter that Judge Akay has been provisionally released".

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."

The UN court ordered in late January that Akay should be released by at least mid-February so he can return to his work in The Hague, where the appeals case of a former Rwandan minister has been paralysed by the judge's absence.

Augustin Ngirabatware is calling for a 30-year jail term imposed for his role in his country's 1994 genocide to be overturned.

The MICT said in March it would report the matter to the UN Security Council as the case against Ngirabatware languished, with the Rwandan's lawyers saying their client "remains in prison for a crime he did not commit, waiting for a hearing he cannot have".

In Turkey, Akay was found guilty of using Bylock, a communications service which Ankara claims was especially created for Gulen supporters, the Dogan news agency reported.

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, Dogan reported, meaning there is no prospect of him resuming his work with the UN courts system.

 

Pentagon skeptical about Russia's Syria pullout claims

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant rights violations

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

Israeli sentenced to four years for arson attack on church

Erdogan risks sabotaging fragile relations with Israel

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

Two Gazans killed by Israeli ‘strike’, Israel denies claim

French FM accuses Iran of carving out ‘axis’ of influence

Somali journalist killed in front of children

Over 170 dead after South Sudan rival cattle herders clash

Russia begins partial withdrawal from Syria

Russia weary of returning IS jihadists before World Cup, election

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS