Arusha, February 14, 2012 (FH) - Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have elected Danish Judge Vagn Joensen as new President of the Tribunal, says an ICTR press statement issued on Monday. He will take over from current President Khalida Rachid Khan of Pakistan on March 2. Judge Khan is to be redeployed to the ICTR  Appeals Chamber in The Hague next month.

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Judge Joensen joined the Tribunal in May 2007 and has been its Vice-President since August 2011. Judge Florence Rita Arrey of Cameroon has been elected new Vice-President of the Tribunal, taking over from Judge Joensen today, according to the same press release.  

Born in 1950, Judge Joensen holds a Master of Law from the University of Arhus. Before joining the ICTR he was a judge at the Danish High Court in Copenhagen from 1994. He also served as an international judge for the UN mission in Kosovo from 2001 to 2002, and taught law at two Danish universities.

Among the ICTR cases presided by Judge Joensen are special deposition hearings to preserve evidence against the Tribunal's most wanted fugitive Felicien Kabuga, alleged financier of the 1994 genocide.

Judge Joensen becomes the sixth President of the Tribunal since its establishment in November 1994. The first President was Senegalese Judge Laity Kama, followed by Navanethem Pillay of South Africa and Judge Eric Mose of Norway. Judge Dennis Byron from St. Kitts and Nevis took over next, before being replaced by Judge Khan.

Judge Joensen joined the ICTR as an "ad litem" (non permanent) judge, the press statement notes. In July 2011, the UN Security Council decided that ad litem judges were now eligible to stand in, and vote for, elections for the Tribunal's presidency and vice-presidency. Under the previous rules, these important posts were in danger of having no eligible candidates, since all permanent judges of the Tribunal are due to leave the Trial Chambers in the coming months.

The ICTR aims to complete its first instance trials by the end of June this year and all outstanding appeals cases by the end of 2014.  


© Hirondelle News Agency