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UN court judge quits The Hague over political interference by US, Turkey: report

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A senior judge has resigned from one of the United Nations’ international courts in The Hague, citing “shocking” political interference from the United States and Turkey, British daily The Guardian reported on Monday.

German Christoph Flügge claimed that Turkey’s government had made “baseless” allegations to end the tenure of a Turkish judge sitting on a UN court known as the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals with the connivance of the UN.

Aydın Sefa Akay was removed following his arrest and subsequent release over alleged links to Fethullah Gülen, the US-based cleric blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a 2016 failed coup attempt.

“Turkey applied its veto against Judge Akay,” Flügge said. “We, the other judges, immediately protested. But his tenure was nevertheless not extended by the UN Secretary-General. And with that, he is gone.”

Flügge, who had been a permanent judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) since 2008, told the German newspaper Die Zeit that he had concluded in the wake of the developments that the diplomatic world saw no value in an independent judiciary.

He warned that the UN’s blind eye to Turkey’s intervention had set an alarming precedent.

“Every incident in which judicial independence is breached is one too many,” he said. “Now there is this case, and everyone can invoke it in the future. Everyone can say: ‘But you let Turkey get its way.’ This is an original sin. It can’t be fixed.”

Flügge also suggested that the US had threatened judges with criminal prosecution after preliminary investigations were being planned by The Hague to examine the conduct of US soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan.

“The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat,” Flügge said.

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