A United Nations court has censured Turkey for failing to release an international judge, detained in Ankara's post-coup crackdown, saying it will report the country to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
In a ruling issued on Monday, The Hague-based Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) said since Turkey “has failed to comply with its obligations” in the case of detained judge Aydin Sefa Akay, the legal institution would report the case to the UN Security Council for Ankara’s violation of his diplomatic immunity.
“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,” the court's president Theodor Meron further said in the written ruling.
Akay, also a UN judge, was arrested last September, after the mid-July failed military coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who ordered a massive crackdown on those alleged to have had links with the coup plotters.
Since then, over 40,000 people have been jailed and some 110,000 others, including nearly 4,000 judges and prosecutors, have been discharged from their jobs.
According to Turkish media, police arrested Akay for allegedly having a messaging application on his phone that was reportedly employed by many of the putsch plotters.
On October 27, the MICT called on Turkey to release Akay and halt all legal proceedings against its judge. Ankara, however declined the request, prompting the legal institution to repeat its demand in late January, setting a deadline of February 14, but to no avail.
Akay is also sorely needed by the court to hear a request to reopen the case of Augustin Ngirabatware, a Rwandan convict, now serving 30 years for incitement to commit genocide and instigating and aiding and abetting genocide.
Last year, Ngirabatware’s defense lawyers requested a review of his long-term sentence based on new evidence, claiming that the new documents would exonerate him. Ankara’s firm stance on Akay’s detention also prompted the convict’s lawyers to call on the tribunal to report Turkey to the UN Security Council for non-compliance with the court's order.
The MICT does not possess any enforcement powers of its own, and the UNSC now can decide to pressure Ankara diplomatically or through imposing sanctions or even resorting to force, though it very rarely acts in such cases.