The Security Council this morning endorsed the recommendation of the Secretary-General that Judge Lennart Aspegren, once replaced as a member of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, finish the Prosecutor vs Georges Anderson Rutaganda and the Prosecutor vs Alfred Musema cases which he had begun before the expiry of his term of office.
The Council took that action this morning as it unanimously adopted resolution 1241 (1999), by other terms of which it took note of the intention of the Tribunal to finish those cases, if possible, before 31 January 2000.
[The mandate of Judge Aspegren would have expired on 24 May, while the two cases were still in proceedings before Trial Chamber I, where he sits. The Rutaganda case, which began on 18 March 1997, should move into the deliberation phase by the end of June. The Musema case is also coming to a conclusion. That case should enter the deliberation phase next September.]
The meeting, which began at 1:38 p.m, was adjourned at 1:41 p.m.
The full text of resolution 1241 (1999) reads as follows:
"The Security Council
"Taking note of the letter to the President of the Council from the Secretary-General dated 17 May 1999, attaching the letter to him from the President of the International Tribunal for Rwanda dated 14 May 1999 (S/1999/566),
"Endorses the recommendation of the Secretary-General that Judge Aspegren, once replaced as a member of the Tribunal, finish the Rutaganda and Musema cases which he has begun before expiry of his term of office; and takes note of the intention of the Tribunal to finish these cases if possible before 31 January 2000."
Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6680 4006th Meeting (PM) 19 May 1999
The Security Council met this morning to consider a letter dated 17 May from the Secretary-General to the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council (document A/53/960-S/1999/566), stating that he had received a letter dated 14 May from the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
The Tribunal President had requested an extension of the term of office of a non-elected Tribunal judge to allow disposal of two on-going cases, the Secretary-General stated, a matter that raised institutional and budgetary questions. It was recalled that two Tribunal judges had not been nominated and therefore not elected on 3 November 1998 to a second term. The term of one such judge, presiding in the Rutaganda and Musema cases, would expire on 24 May, and if he did not complete those cases, both trials would need to restart with a new panel of judges and an order of rehearings of witnesses and testimonies.
In the absence of an explicit statutory provision for extending the terms of Tribunal judges, the Secretary-General's letter continued, approval by the Security Council, the parent organ of the Tribunal, and by the General Assembly, the organ electing Tribunal judges, was desired to preclude questions about the legality of an extension. The period of the requested extension was estimated to be eight months. It had been envisaged that the estimated $261,800 additional cost could possibly be covered from the 1999 appropriations. The matter was asked to be brought before the members of the Council and the Assembly for speedy approval in any manner deemed fit.
An annex to the Secretary-General's letter contains the letter dated 14 May from the Tribunal President to the Secretary-General. That letter sets out the particulars of the two cases, stating that the Rutaganda case, begun on 18 March 1997, was about to proceed to the deliberations phase by the end of June. The Musema case was also coming to an end, with the closing speech and pleading expected to take place immediately after the last witnesses appeared in early September.
The departure of the presiding Judge Aspegren, when his mandate expired on 24 May, would create unfortunate legal and financial consequences, the annexed letter continues. The departure would also cause serious prejudice to the accused, as well as to the legal work and image of the Tribunal.
Recalling that in 1997 the Security Council had authorized an extension by 12 months of the mandates of three Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia under circumstances similar to those of the Rwanda Tribunal, an extension until 30 January 2000 at the latest was requested for Judge Aspegren. The Tribunal Registrar had been asked to report on the financial implications of extending the mandate. If the extension was authorized, every effort would be made to ensure that judgments in the two cases were rendered as soon as possible, perhaps before 31 January 2000.
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