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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Three out of five appeals judges hearing the case of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic at an international tribunal have been removed from the panel due to possible bias, court documents released on Wednesday showed.

Mladic, 75, was convicted of war crimes and genocide in November 2017 and sentenced to life in prison, notably for his role in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

The Mladic appeal is in its preliminary stages and no date has been set yet for public hearings. He was convicted of genocide for the 1995 massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys after the fall of the Srebrenica enclave.

Among the judges to be replaced was Theodor Meron, the president of the legal mechanism in The Hague that took over appeals from the United Nations tribunal for the former Yugoslavia when it closed last year.

The judge accepted a defence argument that the appeals judges had ruled in other cases before the U.N. court dealing with facts Mladic is contesting and therefore might raise concerns about the court's impartiality.

Three new judges were assigned to the case, which is expected to be concluded in 2020.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Anthony Deutsch)

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