Judge Andrésia Vaz, the presiding judge in The Prosecutor v. Karemera et al. case, has voluntarily decided to withdraw from the case following allegations of bias from Defence attorneys. In a letter dated 14 May 2004, Judge Vaz informed the President of the Tribunal that she had decided to withdraw from the case in the interest of justice. On Monday 17 May 2004, she informed the parties of her decision. The decision was made in order to dispel any possible doubt about the integrity of the proceedings.
The Defence had filed five motions for disqualification, of which three related to the full bench. The Bureau, composed of the ICTR President, Judge Erik Møse, and Judge William Sekule, rejected three of the motions. The other two were declared moot once Judge Vaz decided to withdraw from the case. In one of the motions, the Defence argued that there was an appearance of bias because Ms. Dior Fall, a Senegalese magistrate and trial attorney in the Karamera et al. case, stayed in Judge Vaz’ house from her arrival in Arusha during a limited period until she found her own house. This took place before Judge Vaz was assigned to the Karemera et al. case, and before the trial started.
Judge Vaz was First President of the Senegalese Court of Appeal, and First President of the National Election Commission of Senegal. She later became President of the High Court of Senegal. She is an Associate Member of the International Commission of Jurists and a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, in the Netherlands. She was elected to the ICTR in 2001, and was elected Vice President of the Tribunal in May 2003.
Rule 15 (C) of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides that if a judge is prevented from sitting in a part-heard case, the President may appoint another judge to sit in the case and order a rehearing or continuation of the trial. After the opening statements or presentation of evidence, the case can only continue with the consent of the accused.
President Møse is now in the process of clarifying whether the parties will consent to the continuation of the proceedings. Clarification is expected shortly.