Case No.: IT-03-67-PT

BEFORE THE BUREAU OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL

Before:
Judge Fausto Pocar, Vice-President
Judge Patrick Robinson
Judge Carmel Agius
Judge Liu Daqun
Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen

Registrar:
Mr. Hans Holthuis

Decision of:
11 January 2005

THE PROSECUTOR

v.

Vojislav SESELJ

___________________________________________________________

DECISION ON REQUESTS FOR DISQUALIFICATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL

__________________________________________________________

Counsel for the Prosecutor:

Ms. Hildegaard Uertz-Retzlaff
Mr. Daniel Saxon

The Accused:

Mr. Vojislav Seselj

Standby Counsel:

Mr. Tjarda Eduard van der Spoel

 

1. On 19 November 2004 and 6 December 2004, Vojislav Seselj ("Seselj") filed before the Bureau of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia Since 1991 ("Bureau" and "International Tribunal" respectively), two Requests1 seeking that the Bureau disqualify President Theodor Meron2 (the "President") from any involvement in Seseljís trial, or any decisions relating to proceedings against him, on the ground that the President has a personal interest in his case.3

2. Seselj bases his allegation of the Presidentís personal interest on his refusal to consider a document, dated 16 June 2004, addressed to him from Seselj making various allegations about Seseljís detention and the propriety of the actions of various officials and other staff of the International Tribunal ("Submission No. 36").4 In that document, Seselj also stated that he was sending the document so that his allegations might be kept on record. The Office of the President responded to Seselj in a letter dated 14 July 2004 advising him that if he wished to have any of his allegations considered by the President, he should file Submission No. 36 as a motion with the Registry of the International Tribunal.

3. Seselj states that he sent Submission No. 36 to the President in order for him to decide on the contents of Submission No. 36.5 Seselj argues that by allowing the letter of 14 July 2004 to be sent to Seselj from his Office, the President "has violated his duty to behave in a way that will maintain the dignity of his profession and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary".6 He claims that the President has a legal obligation under the International Tribunalís Statute to decide on Submission No. 36.7

4. In his Requests, Seselj states that he relies on Rule 15 of the Rules. Rule 15 provides, in relevant part, as follows:

(A) A Judge may not sit on a trial or appeal in any case in which the Judge has a personal interest or concerning which the Judge has or has had any association which might affect his or her impartiality. The Judge shall in any such circumstance withdraw, and the President shall assign another Judge to the case.

(B) Any party may apply to the Presiding Judge of a Chamber for the disqualification and withdrawal of a Judge of that Chamber from a trial or appeal upon the above grounds. The Presiding Judge shall confer with the Judge in question, and if necessary the Bureau shall determine the matter. If the Bureau upholds the application, the President shall assign another Judge to sit in place of the disqualified Judge.

5. As the language of Rule 15 clearly states, an application for disqualification is to be made to the Presiding Judge of the Chamber seized of a case. The Bureau is not the Presiding Judge of the Chamber seized of the proceedings in Seseljís case. Further, Seselj does not state that the President is a member of any Chamber now seised of Seseljís case, and the Bureau itself does not think otherwise.

6. On the basis of the foregoing, Seseljís Requests are hereby dismissed.

 

Done in English and French, the English version being authoritative.

Done this 11th day of January 2005,
At The Hague,
The Netherlands.

__________________
Judge Fausto Pocar
Vice - President

[Seal of the Tribunal]


1. Request by the Accused to the Bureau to Disqualify the President of the International Criminal Court, Theodor Meron, From the Trial and Decision-Making Process in the Case of the Prosecutor vs. Prof. Vojislav Seselj, 8 November 2004 ("First Request"); Request by the Accused to the Bureau to Disqualify the President of the International Criminal Court, Theodor Meron, From the Trial and Decision-Making Process in the Case of the Prosecutor vs. Professor Vojislav Seselj, filed 6 December 2004 ("Second Request").
2. Pursuant to Rule 23 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence ("Rules"), the Bureau is composed of the President, the Vice-President and the Presiding Judges of the Trial Chambers. Judge Meron is President of the Tribunal and Seselj has not requested that he be excluded from considering this application for the Presidentís disqualification. However, the President has requested that he be recused from considering this Request and he has been replaced by Judge Shahabuddeen as the next most senior Judge in the list of precedence.
3. First Request, p. 3
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid., p. 7
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.