THE HAGUE/SARAJEVO, September 27 (FENA) -Theodor Meron, the presiding judge in Radovan Karadžić’s appeal against genocide and war crimes convictions, withdrew from the case after the former Bosnian Serb political leader’s defense accused him of bias.
Judge Theodor Meron voluntarily withdrew from the appeals procedure in the Radovan Karadžić case on Thursday after the defense asked the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to remove him for alleged bias against the defendant, BIRN reports.
“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 Karadžić’s defense was based on a previous decision by the UN court to remove him and two other judges from the appeal in Ratko Mladić’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 defense argued on Wednesday that Meron has delivered conclusions at previous trials held in The Hague that were related to Karadžić 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.
Defense lawyer Peter Robinson said that Meron should be removed for the sake of “the Mechanism itself, which endeavors to fight for promotion of truth and reconciliation”.
Under a first-instance verdict in March 2016, Karadžić was sentenced to 40 years in prison for genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorizing the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.
He was acquitted of genocide in seven other Bosnian municipalities.
Both the defense 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 Mladić’s defense 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 Mladić so they were not impartial.
Mladić was also convicted of genocide and other wartime crimes. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but is appealing against the conviction.
The final verdict in Ratko Mladić case is due to be handed down next year.