NNA - On 4 May, a Panel consisting of Judge David Baragwanath (Presiding), Judge Afif Chamseddine and Judge Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko issued its decision dismissing in its entirety the motion filed by Defence counsel for the Accused Mr Hussein Hassan Oneissi. The Oneissi Defence had requested the disqualification and withdrawal of the Trial Chamber Judges in the Ayyash et al. case: Presiding Judge David Re, Judge Janet Nosworthy, and Judge Micheline Braidy.
In the motion filed on 12 April before President Hrdličková, and pursuant to Rule 25 of the STL Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Oneissi Defence submitted that the Trial Chamber is biased and partial in its conduct towards the Defence in the period since the close of the Prosecution case.
In their decision, the Panel stated: “We have concluded that the pressures of the final stages of a uniquely complex and difficult case have resulted in the Oneissi Defence identifying a disqualifying bias in timetabling orders which, in fact, were made not to favour another party or to harm the Oneissi Defence, but to bring a complex case against the four Accused to a timely conclusion.”
According to Rule 25 of the STL Rules, a party may apply to the President for the disqualification and withdrawal of a Judge. In such cases, the President designates a panel of three Judges in accordance with the relevant Practice Direction to determine whether the Judge should be disqualified.
On 13 April, in accordance with the Practice Direction on Designation of Panel in Matters of Excusal and Disqualification of Judges, the President designated a Panel pursuant to Rule 25 (C) consisting of Judge Daniel Nsereko (Presiding), Judge Walid Akoum and Judge Nicola Lettieri. On 16 April, the Panel invited Judges Re, Nosworthy, and Braidy to submit their views on the Defence Motion. On 18 April, Judge Re and Judge Nosworthy requested that the President re-designate a Panel which does not include Trial Chamber alternate Judges Akoum and Lettieri. On 19 April, the President invited the Judge Akoum, Judge Lettieri and the Oneissi Defence to submit their views. On 20 April, Judge Akoum and Judge Lettieri requested that the President excuse them from exercising their functions as members of the Panel. On 23 April, The Oneissi Defence indicated that they took note of the “decision” of Judges Akoum and Lettieri and that the Joint Application of Judges Re and Nosworthy emphasizes the grounds and the reasoning which led to the Disqualification Motion. On 25 April, the President ordered the Panel designated pursuant to Rule 25 (C) to be composed of Judges Baragwanath (Presiding), Chamseddine and Nsereko. On 26 April, the Oneissi Defence filed “observations” regarding the composition of this Panel and the three Judges jointly filed their views with respect to the Motion for Disqualification. Finally, on 1 May, the Oneissi Defence submitted a reply to the Judges’ views. -- STL