Radovan Karadzic’s motion to recuse Judge Melville Baird from Trinidad and Tobago ‘has no merit’, concluded the three-member panel with Judge Karmel Agius presiding

Melville Baird, ad litem sudija TribunalaMelville Baird, ad litem sudija Tribunala

The three-member panel of judges rejected the motion by the accused Radovan Karadzic to recuse Judge Melville Baird, of Trinidad and Tobago. Karadzic contends that Judge Baird, who is 70, ‘does not meet the qualifications of an ad litem judge before the Tribunal by virtue of his age’, in accordance with the Statute of the Tribunal.

Pursuant to Article 13 of the Statute, permanent and ad litem judges have to ‘posses the qualifications required for the highest judicial office in his or her respective country’. In Trinidad and Tobago, persons over 65 years of age cannot hold the highest judicial office. Therefore, Karadzic contends that judge Baird is unfortunately "too old’.

In its decision made public today, the panel of judges invokes the interpretation of Article 13 of the Statute by the Appeals Chamber in the Celebici case. In that case, the Appeals Chamber concluded that the intention of Article 13 was to ensure that ‘the essential qualifications’ of the ICTY judges didn’t differ from case to case. According to that decision, the essential qualifications are ‘the character of the judges, including their impartiality and integrity’ and their ‘legal qualifications and experience in criminal and international law’. According to the Appeals Chamber, a judge doesn’t have to meet all the criteria required for the highest judicial office in their respective country such as ‘nationality or age’. Despite Karadzic’s claim that the Celebici case differs from his case, the three judges found those differences ‘irrelevant’.

In its decision, the panel of three judges notes that the ‘qualities of a person required for the highest judicial offices in its country’ were separate from ‘the restrictions ‘ set by local laws in terms of age requirements for judicial office. Radovan Karadzic's motion to disqualify Judge Baird because of his age therefore has ‘no merit’, the panel concluded in its decision. The panel of three judges comprised judges Carmel Agius, Burton Hall and Guy Delvoie.

Now that the motion to disqualify Judge Baird has been dismissed, the ground for Radovan Karadzic’s trial to start has been cleared. The trial is scheduled to start on 26 October 2009. The prosecution will deliver its opening statements of 26 and 27 October 2009. Karadzic is expected to deliver his opening statement in the first week of November.