By Casey Quackenbush
January 29, 2019
A top judge in one of the United Nations’ international courts in The Hague has quit over what he termed “shocking” political interference from the White House and Turkey, the Guardian reports.
Senior judge from Germany, Christoph Flügge, alleged that Turkey used its veto to end the tenure of a Turkish judge in one of the U.N. courts, setting a dangerous precedent for intervention.
“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.”
Turkish judge Aydın Sefa Akay was removed over alleged connections to a Turkish cleric living in the U.S. named Fethullah Gülen who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blames for a failed coup against him in 2016.
Flügge cited White House interference as well. He said the U.S. had threatenedjudges over an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the conduct of American soldiers in Afghanistan.
“John Bolton, the national security adviser to the US president, held a speech last September in which he wished death on the international criminal court,” Flügge said, according to the Guardian.
“If these judges ever interfere in the domestic concerns of the U.S. or investigate an American citizen, he said the American government would do all it could to ensure that these judges would no longer be allowed to travel to the United States – and that they would perhaps even be criminally prosecuted.”
Flügge said the court was stunned by Bolton’s hostility.
“The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat,” he said.
“It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law,'” he added.