Tribunal Considers U.S. Job Applicants; Bush Opposes New Criminal court.(WORLD)

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Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

THE HAGUE - Hundreds of Americans have applied for the initial 26 jobs at the new International Criminal Court (ICC) despite the Bush administration's strong opposition to the tribunal, court officials said yesterday.

Although preference in the hiring process will be given to candidates from the court's 139 member-states, the officials said that there is no rule that disqualifies U.S. citizens, and that they will be seriously considered based on their competence and skills.

"We've received over 1,400 applications so far, and those from the United States are in the hundreds," said a member of the advanced team that has been setting up the new institution since July 1. "We also keep getting phone calls from Americans interested in working for us every day."

More than 80 nations have signed and ratified the statute. The United States, which had signed it under President Clinton, withdrew its signature earlier this year.

The Bush administration is worried that U.S. officials and soldiers overseas might be prosecuted for political reasons, and it is negotiating bilateral accords with individual countries to shield Americans from the court's jurisdiction.

The ICC official would not discuss the U.S. applications in more detail but said they were for positions "across the board," including in finance, legal affairs, information technology and human resources.

Bruno Cathala, the first senior ICC official elected by the court's governing board last month, said a panel of 10 persons will do all initial hiring - 60 slots have to be filled by the end of December and another 120 by end of next year. He also noted that some members of the advance team will stay on after its mandate expires next week. …