The sixth Plenary Session of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda opened today, with the swearing in of three new Judges by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Legal Counsel Mr. Hans Corell, and the Judges of the Trial Chambers, the Appeals Chamber, the Registrar and the Office of the Prosecutor. These appointments bring to nine the total number of Judges of the three Trial Chambers of the Tribunal.
The three Judges are Mehmet Güney (Turkey) and Erik Møse (Norway), who were appointed on 3 November 1998 to replace the Judges who did not seek re-election to a second term of office, and Asoka de Zoysa Gunawardana (Sri Lanka) who replaces Judge Dionysios Kondylis (Greece) who resigned from Trial Chamber III on 22 March 1999.
Opening the ceremony the President of the Tribunal, Judge Laïty Kama, welcomed Mr. Corell and expressed his gratitude to the Secretary-General for his support. He also expressed his appreciation for his fellow Judges, the Prosecutor, the Registrar and the staff for their commitment and support. The President also paid tribute to the work of his colleague Judge Tafazzal Hossain Khan (Bangladesh) who is leaving the Tribunal after four years of service. The mandate of Judge Lennart Aspegren (Sweden) was extended to 31 January 2000 in order to enable him to complete two outstanding cases.
In a speech after the swearing in, Mr. Corell, representing the Secretary-General of the United Nations , commended the work being done by the Tribunal in bringing to justice the planners and ringleaders of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He also reaffirmed the Secretary-General's support for the Tribunal.
Before his appointment to the Tribunal Judge Gunawardana was a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka. Judge Güney was an Ambassador in the Turkish diplomatic service and led his country's delegation in 1998 to the United Nations Diplomatic Conference on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court. Judge Møse was Judge of theBorgarting Court of Appeals, Oslo, and part time professor at the University of Oslo.
The plenary Session will continue until the end of this week with several meetings at which Judges will discuss amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and will also elect a new President for a mandate of two years.