January 17, 2017
Lawyers at a U.N. court urged Turkey on Monday to release a judge who is being held in connection with July’s coup attempt, saying his detention was delaying a genocide case.
Judge Aydin Sedaf Akay has been held since September, one of tens of thousands of Turkish officials arrested in a crackdown on people and organizations after the foiled coup in which hundreds died.
Lawyers on both sides of a bid by the defense to reconsider a Rwandan politician’s conviction for genocide said Akay’s absence was holding up the case.
Turkey did not attend a hearing in The Hague on Monday about Akay’s situation and declined to make submissions on his detention, which the court views as illegal because of the diplomatic immunity he enjoys as a U.N. judge.
Turkey was a strong early backer of the international courts set up in the 1990s to try mass crimes from the Yugoslav wars and the Rwandan genocide, but it has become more unilateral under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Akay, a diplomat and long-serving international judge, had been assigned to a panel assembled to determine if new evidence showed Rwandan Augustin Ngirabatware had been wrongfully convicted of genocide and jailed for 35 years.