Opinions and Legal Insights

2 November 2020 – Prosecution requests alternative judge assigned to Yekatom and  Ngaïssona case

International Criminal Court. Photo: coalitionfortheicc.org via Bing (CC).
International Criminal Court. Photo: coalitionfortheicc.org via Bing (CC).

Prosecution requests assignment of alternative judge for Yekatom and  Ngaïssona trial in response to COVID; Victims and Defence don’t oppose: The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) requested that the Presidency designate an Alternate Judge in the Yekatom and  Ngaïssona case submitting that it would be a justified and prudent way to insulate the trial from the inability to undertake a late substitution or replacement of a judge die to the COVID-19 pandemic should an incumbent judge of Trial Chamber V fall seriously ill or otherwise be unable to attend what are expected to be lengthy proceedings for any extended period of time. OTP submitted that Article 74 discretion allowed an Alternate Judge to be appointed and that the failure to designate such a judge at the start of the trial are serious and would risk delay in the proceedings, as no provision allows for continuation in the absence of any member of the Trial Chamber.

The Yekatom defence did not oppose to the request but asks that two clarifications to be made, should the Presidency rule in the Prosecution’s favour: First, that an alternate judge is not to participate in the proceedings and deliberations, and second that the participation of the alternate judge, would not be a recourse for the temporary absence of any member of the Trial Chamber.
Finally, the Common Legal Representatives of Victims submitted a response in support of the Prosecution’s Request. They wholly agreed that the global pandemic justifies the designation of an Alternate Judge as a measure to preserve the continuity of the proceedings, noting that if a judge were to become permanently unavailable, the only outcome would be a re-trial, which the Victims would find unbearable as they wish to have an expeditious and effective trial with no delay and disruptions. (Prosecution Request, Defence Response, Victims Response)
Post by: Portia Karegeya

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