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Statement of Judge Theodor Meron, President of the ICTY, upon the Resignation of Judge Richard George May

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 22 February 2004

Statement of Judge Theodor Meron, President of the ICTY, upon the Resignation of Judge Richard George May

Judge Richard George May of the United Kingdom has informed me of his resignation as a Judge of the International Tribunal, effective 31 May 2004, due to health reasons. Judge May’s letter of resignation states that his recent illness will make it increasingly difficult for him to continue the performance of his duties and that he believes, however reluctantly, that his resignation is in the best interests of the Tribunal.

I have transmitted Judge May’s letter of resignation to the Secretary-General of the United Nations at Judge May’s request and pursuant to Rule 16 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. I am confident that the Secretary-General will soon appoint a successor Judge under Article 13 bis of the Statute of the Tribunal.

For more than six years, Judge May’s formidable intellect and unwavering dedication have made him one of the Tribunal’s mainstays. Since taking the oath of office in November 1997, Judge May has worked tirelessly to carry out the Tribunal’s mandate to ensure that persons accused of serious violations of international humanitarian law are tried according to procedures that are fair, efficient, and sound.

The roster of Tribunal cases that have benefited from Judge May’s care makes up a significant portion of the Tribunal’s entire docket. As a member of Trial Chamber II, Judge May participated in the trial and final judgement in the cases of Furundzija and Kupreskic. As Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber III, a position he has held since November 1998, he has presided over the trials in the cases of Kordic and Cerkez and, most recently, Milosevic. He deliberated on numerous sentencing judgements, including in the Celebici Camp case and the cases of Sikirica, Plavsic, and Banovic. He has also taken part in hundreds of Trial Chamber decisions on matters of procedure and served as Presiding Judge of the Tribunal’s Appeals Chamber in the Aleksovski case.

Judge May has brought his practical wisdom and mastery of substantive criminal law to bear on many unprecedented challenges. He has shepherded the Milosevic case, one of historical importance and daunting dimensions, through a major part of the trial with patience and care and handled the unique issues presented by that case creatively and effectively. Judge May’s extraordinary skill is evident from the striking in all of his cases of an appropriate balance between the rights of the accused and efficient trial management.

Judge May also served for five years as Chair of the Tribunal’s Committee on the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The work of that Committee has been invaluable in developing procedures that are geared to the special requirements of international criminal prosecutions and that combine the disparate approaches of common law and civil law systems. One of the Tribunal’s major contributions to the evolution of international criminal law is its elaboration of a procedural framework that allows the effective conduct of trials while respecting the rights of the accused. Much of the Tribunal’s ability to conduct credible and sophisticated proceedings is due to Judge May’s skilled leadership of the Rules Committee.

The Judges and staff of the Tribunal shall continue to work hard to fulfill the historic mission of the Tribunal, even in Judge May’s absence. I am confident that Judge May’s resignation will not have an unduly disruptive effect on any proceedings before the Tribunal. The conduct of the Milosevic trial remains in the safe hands of Trial Chamber III.

A witness at the Tribunal once described Judge May as being "made of reinforced platinum." The metaphor is quite apt. Like platinum, Judge May is strong, noble, brilliant and, above all, of a very rare quality. To me personally, Judge May is a close friend and a valued mentor. We at the Tribunal have treasured him as a colleague, and we look forward to his continued insights into the work of the Tribunal as an enlightened outside observer. We are very grateful to Judge May for his years of service and wish him a swift and full recovery.