Vatican Backs Tribunal for Crimes in Ex-Yugoslavia

But It Abstains from Voting for Judges

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NEW YORK, JUNE 13, 2001 ( The Vatican has given its support to an international tribunal prosecuting human-rights violators in the former Yugoslavia.

Because of the Holy See´s special nature, however, it has decided to abstain from casting its vote on the 27 individual candidates to the Office of Judge «ad litem» of the tribunal, said Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican permanent observer at the United Nations. «Ad litem» judges support the tribunal´s 14 permanent judges.

The full name of the institution is the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991.

Headquartered in The Hague, it was established by the U.N. Security Council in 1993, during the Balkans War, to prosecute those responsible for the massacres, tortures, mass expulsions and other violations of international humanitarian law.

Archbishop Martino said the Holy See «appreciates the fact that it is invited to participate in the election of judges ad litem to the tribunal in the same manner as the member-states of the United Nations,» despite the fact that the Vatican status is that of permanent observer.

On behalf of the Holy See, Archbishop Martino renewed «its confidence in the choices that will be made by the international community and extends its sincere best wishes to the judges ad litem who have been elected to serve the cause of justice and peace in the world.»

The «ad litem» posts were created in November too speed up the trials, especially of the accused who are still detained.

The 27 judges elected, among 51 candidates from 34 countries, will form part of a nine-man group for each trial, and will serve for a maximum period of three years.

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