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Legal expert Luzius Wildhaber, first president of ECHR, dies

Luzius Wildhaber, an international law expert and Professor Emeritus of the University of Basel, has died aged 83. He was the first full-time president of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

After studying in Basel, Paris, Heidelberg, London and Yale University in the US and a professorship in Fribourg, Wildhaber taught constitutional and international law in his hometown of Basel from 1977 to 1998.

Wildhaber was a part-time judge at the State Court of Liechtenstein from 1975 to 1988. In 1991 he became a judge at the ECHR in Strasbourg, France. He was its first full-time president from 1998 until his retirement in 2007.

In an obituary, the ECHR said those who had worked with Wildhaber had met him with great respect and affection. “They will recall his humanity, his sense of humour, his culture and his endlessly enquiring mind. Today the court mourns its former president and is proud to have counted him as one of its number.”

In addition, Wildhaber was head of the expert commission on the total revision of the Swiss Federal Constitution and a member of numerous expert commissions and international arbitration tribunals.