Turkey referred to UN Security Council over detained judge

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Aydin Sefa Akay, a judge on the Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT)

The detention of Aydin Sefa Akay, a judge with the Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), was referred to the United Nations Security Council on Monday, Reuters reported.

According to the report, Turkey is infringing on the judicial independence of a United Nations war crimes tribunal by holding one of its judges in detention despite an order to release him, MICT ruled on Monday. The panel has referred the matter to the UN Security Council.

On Jan. 31, MICT, a United Nations legal panel, ordered Turkey to release a judge by Feb. 14 and halt legal proceedings against him, one among thousands of people arrested over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement in the aftermath of a failed coup on July 15.

Akay is a member of a panel of judges that is reviewing the case of a former Rwandan government minister who was convicted of involvement in his country’s 1994 genocide.
Judge Akay, who was arrested in September for having a smart phone application called ByLock, denied links to the Gülen movement and described himself as a Freemason.

Akay in his testimony denied any connection to the movement, saying he downloaded ByLock from the Google Play Store to communicate with fellow Masons.

Turkish prosecutors claim ByLock is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.

A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.

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