Three new judges sworn in before UNs Balkans war crimes tribunal

2 September 2009Three new permanent judges were sworn in today before the United Nations war crimes tribunal that was set up to try people accused of committing the worst offences during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Guy Delvoie of Belgium, Howard Morrison of the United Kingdom and Sir Burton Hall of the Bahamas were sworn in at a ceremony in The Hague, where the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is based, after being appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this year.The three judges will serve either until the end of 2010 or sooner if the cases to which they are assigned are completed, according to a press release issued by the ICTY. Under a completion strategy mapped out with the Security Council, the tribunal aims to finish all trials at first instance by the end of this year and then start downsizing next year.The ICTY has 16 permanent judges and 12 “ad litem” judges, who are appointed to sit on specific trials.The new judges, who have all had lengthy legal careers, succeed Christine Van Den Wyngaert, Lord Iain Bonomy and Mohamed Shahabuddeen, who have resigned.Judge Delvoie, 62, served most recently as the President of the Brussels Court of Appeal, and has worked also as a legal professor. A former defence counsel at the ICTY, Judge Morrison, 60, has also worked as a judge or magistrate in several countries. Judge Hall, 61, was elected by the UN General Assembly as an ad litem judge at the ICTY in 2005 and has been Chief Justice of the Bahamas since 2001.The Tribunal has concluded proceedings against 120 accused, out of 161 indicted. Proceedings are ongoing for 41 accused, but two suspects – Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladić and the ethnic Serb politician Goran Hadžić – are still at large. read more