- Title: Lawyers demand release of U.N. judge imprisoned in Turkey
- Date: 17th January 2017
- Summary: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS (JANUARY 17, 2017) (REUTERS) MICT SPOKESWOMAN EXITING TRIBUNAL (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICT SPOKESWOMAN, HELENA EGGLESTONE, SAYING: "Ngirabatware is asking for an order to government of Turkey to immediately release judge Akay so that he can resume his judicial duties in this case, or alternatively, he is asking for an order for temporary provisional release. President Meron, as the pre-review judge in this case will now carefully consider the submissions made by the parties and issue decision on this request in due course." MICT BUILDING
- Embargoed: 31st January 2017 17:10
- Keywords: U.N. Turkey Aydin Sefa Akay coup
- Location: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS AND ARUSHA, TANZANIA
- City: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS AND ARUSHA, TANZANIA
- Country: Netherlands
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA0035ZH0KEF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Lawyers at a United Nations court urged Turkey on Tuesday (January 17) 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 organisations after the foiled coup in which hundreds died.
Lawyers on both sides of a bid by the defence 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 Tuesday 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.
Ngirabatware's lawyer, Peter Robinson, rejected the prosecution's suggestion that Akay might be replaced by a different judge.
"If a state can arrest the judge and the judge has to be replaced because of that action, then our judges are subject to the restrictions that any state may choose to impose upon them by taking away their immunity in one form or another, that goes to the very heart of judicial independence, we don't want judges having to answer to their states, or be fearful of their states if they take a certain decision, or they don't. They have to be completely independent, that's why they have diplomatic immunity," he told the court.
Robinson said Ngirabatware should be given provisional release in a safe house pending Akay's return to duty.
Erdogan has blamed the coup on supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, but critics accuse him of using the purge to rid himself of opponents, many with no links to the coup or Gulen's movement.
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