|Judge Theodor Meron. Photo: ICTY.|
Judge Theodor Meron voluntarily withdrew from the appeals procedure in the Radovan Karadzic case on Thursday after the defence asked the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to remove him for alleged bias against the defendant.
“In order for my dismissal not to affect the progress of the appellate procedure, it is in the interest of justice that I withdraw from this case,” Meron said.
He said that the request filed by Karadzic’s defence was based on a previous decision by the UN court to remove him and two other judges from the appeal in Ratko Mladic’s case, also over allegations of bias.
He argued that this was contrary to the established legal practices and harmed the interests of the UN court.
Meron insisted that he would have acted impartially in the case. He will be replaced by judge Ivo Nelson de Caires Batista Rosa.
The defence argued on Wednesday that Meron has delivered conclusions at previous trials held in The Hague that were related to Karadzic and crimes committed in Srebrenica, Sarajevo and other municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina which indicate he is biased against the former Bosnian Serb political leader.
“A reasonable observer who has all the information could accept that judge Meron is biased,” the motion said.
Defence lawyer Peter Robinson said that Meron should be removed for the sake of “the Mechanism itself, which endeavours to fight for promotion of truth and reconciliation”.
Under a first-instance verdict in March 2016, Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison for genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.
He was acquitted of genocide in seven other Bosnian municipalities.
Both the defence and the prosecution are appealing against the verdict. The final judgment is due to be handed down at the end of this year.
Earlier this month, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals accepted a request filed by Ratko Mladic’s defence to exempt three judges, including Meron, from his appeal due to alleged bias.
The UN court said that judges Meron, Daqun Liu and Carmel Agius had previously delivered certain legal conclusions related to Mladic so they were not impartial.
Mladic was also convicted of genocide and other wartime crimes. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but is appealing against the conviction.
The final verdict on Mladic is due to be handed down next year.