COURTSIDE: Tribunal to Double Capacity

New judges arriving in July will enable the tribunal to take on more cases

COURTSIDE: Tribunal to Double Capacity

New judges arriving in July will enable the tribunal to take on more cases

Saturday, 28 April, 2001

The Hague tribunal will get much needed help with the arrival of six new supplementary judges in July, allowing the court to handle five cases simultaneously, court officials say.

"We need to double the judgement capacity of the tribunal to be able to handle five simultaneous trials this autumn," Stephan Bourgon, Chief of Cabinet to Tribunal President Claude Jorda, said last week. "Six ad litem judges will arrive in July, they will undergo training and would begin handling trials as early as 1 September."

A list of 60 candidates nominated as tribunal ad litem judges was published last week. In June, the United Nations General Assembly is to elect a pool of 27, from which a limited number, nine at the most, will be called when new trials are set to begin. A first group of six are to arrive at the tribunal this summer.

There will be no difference between permanent and ad litem judges in terms of judicial powers during trials. But the latter will not participate in pre-trial proceedings and a number of other judicial activities not related to a specific trial.

"An ad litem judge will do the trial, write a judgement and either begin a new trial or leave," Bourgon said.

The ad litem judges will be paid an annual salary of $160,000. From 2002, the tribunal plans to run six trials simultaneously.

Presently, four trials are under way - Srebrenica, Foca Prison, Omarska and Keraterm. The first three are expected to end this summer.

Four new ones are expected to begin in September. Pre-trial hearings suggest these will be feature the Mitar Vasiljevic case for crimes in Visegrad; the Mladen Naletilic "Tuta" and Vinko Martinovic "Stela" cases for crimes in the Mostar area; the Bosanski Samac case and a joint trial of Momir Talic and Radislav Brdjanin for genocide in north-west Bosnia.

Another two trials are planned to begin in early 2002 - one may be the case against Stanislav Galic, accused of shelling of Sarajevo and the other the Momcilo Krajisnik and Biljana Plavsic trial.

"The goal of the judges is to complete the mission of the tribunal by 2008," Bourgon said. "The Prosecutor said that by 2004 she would complete 36 new investigations involving 150 suspects. In order to handle 50 or more trials that would arise from these investigations we have to have more judges. Of course the fulfilment of this goal is also dependent on whether all the arrests take place in time."

A study conducted by tribunal judges indicated that without reinforcements it would take ten more years, until 2017, to complete the tribunal's mission.

Vjera Bogati is IWPR correspondent in The Hague

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