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‘Biased’ Judge’s Removal From Seselj Case Upheld

7. October 2013.00:00
The Hague Tribunal dismissed its prosecutor’s request to reconsider its decision to remove controversial judge Frederik Harhoff from the trial of Serbian Radical Party boss Vojislav Seselj.

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The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ruled on Monday that the Hague prosecution had failed to make a case that would justify reconsidering Harhoff’s disqualification from Seselj’s war crimes trial.

Harhoff was removed after Seselj filed a motion in July claiming that the judge was not impartial because he had showed “strong inclinations… to convict accused persons of Serbian ethnicity”.

Seselj’s allegations were sparked by a leaked letter written by Harhoff, in which he criticised the court’s high-profile acquittals of Serbian and Croatian wartime commanders.

The Hague prosecution requested reconsideration of the decision on Harhoff’s removal on the basis that the special chamber set up to consider the issue “assumed his partiality”.

But the special chamber dismissed this view, saying that it “did not, as the prosecution claims, assume that the judge was partial, but it assumed that he was impartial”.

“However, after viewing the letter [written by Harhoff], it concluded that the content was sufficient to dismiss that assumption,” it said in its decision.

Seselj is on trial for allegedly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the non-Serb population in Bosnia, Croatia and the Serbian province of Vojvodina between 1991 and 1994.

The verdict in the case was expected on October 30, but has been postponed amid the dispute over Harhoff.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian