Former judge of UN war crimes tribunal dies at 65

Judge May’s death in his hometown of Oxford came four months after he resigned from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for health reasons.The judge presided over the genocide trial of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic for two years until his retirement.In New York a UN spokesman said Secretary-General Kofi Annan was saddened to learn of Judge May’s death. “Both through his work in the courtroom – most famously as presiding judge in the trial of Slobodan Miloševic – as well as through his work behind the scenes as Chair of the tribunal’s rules committee, Sir Richard played a major role in helping to ensure that the International Tribunal developed from a simple idea in a Security Council resolution into a fully functioning and effective criminal court,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.”Sir Richard leaves behind him a fond memory among all who knew him. But he has also left us something more: a gift of hope that those whose deeds offend the conscience of humankind may no more go unpunished and that, in the affairs of men and women of all nations, the rule of law may ultimately prevail,” the statement added.In the Hague where the court is based, ICTY President Judge Theodor Meron described Sir Richard as one of the Tribunal’s “shining lights” since he began work there in November 1997, citing his intellect, dedication, charm and humour.”Sir Richard was always careful to strike the necessary balance between expeditious and efficient trials and the requirements of fairness, notably leading the Miloševic case through a major part of the trial with the patience and creativity that the case requires,” he said.Judge Meron added that Judge May, by reforming the procedures and conduct of cases at the ICTY, had made a major contribution to the evolution of international criminal law.

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