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Appeals Court Shake-Up Worries Tribunal Watchers

The sacking of the head of Cambodia's Court of Appeals could further delay Khmer Rouge tribunal trials, if her replacement is one of the special court's judges, observers warned Tuesday.

The head judge in the Appeals Court, Ly Vuochleng, could be replaced by You Bunleng, one of two investigating judges for the tribunal.

If he took the post—one with more job security—You Bunleng would not likely be able to hold down both jobs, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The Cambodia Daily reported Tuesday You Bunleng was warmly received by judges recently who called him "Mr. Appeals Court Director."

Ly Vuochleng, the only Cambodian woman serving as a top-ranking judge and a member of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, was removed from her post last week following allegations she took bribes for the release of two men found guilty, in lower courts, of sex trafficking.

She is under investigation at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, officials said.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he had sent evidence to the Phnom Penh Municipal court as it builds a case against Ly Vuochleng.

The Ministry of Interior has enough witnesses to back up the case, he said. "All those reports sent by the ministry have reached the court system.

All the witnesses were cited in previous investigative reports," he said.

Ly Vuochleng has not yet been charged under the courts, but Justice Minister Ang Vong Vatana said she could be, if investigators build a strong enough case. The case was ongoing, he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen removed Ly Vuochleng from he position by a decree, dated Aug. 9, after he criticized her for freeing two alleged sex traffickers: Por Ly, owner of the Chhay Huor II Hotel, and a second man, the hotel manager.