Judge Aydin Sefa Akay, a Judge of the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, was yesterday convicted by a Turkish criminal court of first instance in Ankara on a single charge of being a member of a terrorist organization, FETO. He was sentenced to a term of seven years and six months’ imprisonment. The Mechanism notes that the judgment of first instance is subject to potential appeal and review proceedings at national and international levels, and the verdict has therefore yet to acquire legal finality. The Mechanism understands that Judge Akay has been provisionally released pending appeal, his passport has been forfeited, and he has been prohibited from departing the country.

The arrest of Judge Akay in September 2016, his detention and legal proceedings against him are inconsistent with the assertion of his diplomatic immunity by the United Nations, as well as the binding judicial order by the Mechanism to the Government of Turkey issued in January 2017. The President of the Mechanism, Judge Theodor Meron, formally brought the matter to the attention of the UN Security Council in March 2017.

The President of the Mechanism, Judge Meron, noted that he “deeply regrets this action of the Turkish authorities, in further breach of Judge Akay’s protected status under the international legal framework.” While he welcomes as a humanitarian matter that Judge Akay has been provisionally released, President Meron stated that he “remains gravely concerned that the Government of Turkey has pursued domestic proceedings in disregard of the applicable international legal framework and calls upon the Government to take urgent steps to respect the protected status of Judge Akay and to resolve the situation consistent with international law.