An Ankara court hearing the case on Thursday sentenced Akay, who is attached to the UN’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), to seven years and six months in prison.
The judge was charged with “membership in an armed terror group” over his alleged links to the organization of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based preacher that Turkey has blamed for the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The court found Akay guilty of using Bylock, a communications service that Ankara claims was especially created for Gulen supporters.
Akay has strongly denied the allegations, which have caused uproar in the international community.
After the sentence was passed, Akay – who was arrested at his family home last September – was released under judicial supervision pending confirmation of the verdict by Turkey’s top appeals court, the Yargitay. The court placed an international travel ban on Akay, meaning he will not be able to resume his work at MICT.
Work on Rwanda genocide
Akay had been working with the UN international court trying suspects over the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. His detention has paralyzed proceedings at an appeal hearing of former Rwandan minister Augustin Ngirabatware.
In a statement from MICT, president Judge Theodor Meron said he “deeply regrets this action of the Turkish authorities, in further breach of Judge Akay’s protected status under the international legal framework.”
The judge’s arrest in September last year, his detention since then, and a legal case against him “are inconsistent with the assertion of his diplomatic immunity by the United Nations,” the MICT said. In March, The Hague referred Turkey to the UN Security Council in relation to the affair.
rc/tj (AP, Reuters, AFP)