The Security Council this morning endorsed a recommendation of the Secretary-General that three judges on the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia whose terms of office expire on 16 November next should continue to serve beyond that date, in order to complete a trial that will still be proceeding.
The Secretary-General made the recommendation on receiving a letter from the President of the International Tribunal indicating that the judges -- none of whom had been re-elected -- were sitting in the Celebici case which was described as "complex ... because it involves four defendants".
The judges are Adolphus Karibi-Whyte (Nigeria), Elizabeth Odio Benito (Costa Rica), and Saad Saood Jan (Pakistan).
In unanimously adopting resolution 1126 (1997), the Council took note of the Tribunal's intention to finish the case before November 1998. It also took note of the Secretary-General's letter dated 30 July, attaching a letter from the President of the Tribunal dated 18 June.
In his letter, the Secretary-General said that if the same judges were not allowed to complete the case, it would be necessary to restart the trial with a new panel of judges and order the rehearings of witnesses and testimonies. At this stage of the proceedings, this would unnecessarily prolong the trial and violate the right of the accused to due process of law.
He noted that the statute of the International Tribunal does not contain a provision similar to the one provided by the Statute of the International Court of Justice, whereby members of that Court continue to discharge their duties until they finish any cases they have begun. In the absence of similar provision for the extension of the terms of office of Tribunal judges to complete ongoing cases, the approval of the Council and the General Assembly, as the electing organ, would be desirable to preclude any question about the legality of such an extension.
The meeting began at 10:36 a.m. and adjourned at 10:38 a.m.
Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6413 3813th Meeting (AM) 27 August 1997
The resolution adopted by the Council reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Taking note of the letter of the President of the Council from the Secretary-General dated 30 July 1997, attaching the letter to him from the President of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia dated 18 June 1997 (S/1997/605),
"Endorses the recommendation of the Secretary-General that Judges Karibi-Whyte, Odio Benito and Jan, once replaced as members of the Tribunal, finish the Celebici case which they have begun before expiry of their terms of office; and takes note of the intention of the International Tribunal to finish the case before November 1998."
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