A senior judge on one of the United Nations’ international courts has resigned following what he described as “shocking” interference from President Trump’s White House and Turkey, according to The Guardian.
Christoph Flügge, a German judge, claimed the US had threatened judges after moves were made to examine the conduct of US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Turkey’s government had earlier made “baseless” allegations to end the tenure of a Turkish judge sitting on a United Nations court known as the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals with the connivance of the UN, he claimed.
Aydın Sefa Akay was removed following his arrest and subsequent release over alleged links to Fethullah Gülen, the US-based cleric blamed by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for a failed coup attempt.
Flügge said during an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit that these events told him the “diplomatic world” does not value an independent judiciary, and he warned the situation with Turkey “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.”
The judge also lambasted National Security Adviser John Bolton and the Trump administration in general over its attitude toward the international courts:
“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,” he said.
“If these judges ever interfere in the domestic concerns of the US 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.
“The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American 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 such threats appear “consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law.’”