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Danish judge removed from war crimes tribunal for bias

Danish judge Frederik Harhoff was removed from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Thursday over claims of bias in a letter he wrote criticizing the court. Harhoff was a member of the three-judge panel responsible for overseeing the trial [AP report] of Serbian nationalist Vojislav Seselj [official website, in Serbian; JURIST news archive], who is accused of using speeches to encourage fellow Serbs to commit atrocities against Muslims during the Bosnian War [JURIST news archive]. Per Seselj's request, a special three-judge panel was assembled to consider Harhoff's removal, voting 2-1 in favor of disqualification [DW report]. In June Harhoff sent a letter to 50 recipients criticizing The Hague for a departure from the standard practice for convicting military commanders.

Seselj has consistently argued that the ICTY is biased and violating his right to a fair trial. In March he argued that the tribunal is biased and does not have jurisdiction over his case, a week after the prosecution asked the court [JURIST reports] for a 28-year prison sentence against him. In January Seselj sued the ICTY [JURIST report] for $2.6 million in damages due to alleged unreasonable delays in his trial, alleging that the tribunal failed to give him materials in Serbian; denied him communication with family members, doctors and legal counsel; delayed his trial interminably; and refused him a right to his own, independent counsel.

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