Wednesday, 20 August 2014

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Tribunal Judges Issue Warning to Media Over Leaks

Kong SothanarithVOA Khmer

Investigating judges at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal issued a sharp warning to media outlets on Friday, in an attempt to forbid them from printing information from confidential, leaked documents of the
court.

The Christian Science Monitor and the Associated Press have provided detailed coverage of a controversial case at the court, naming two suspects judges have said should remain anonymous based on a leaked prosecution submission.

The judges, Siegfried Blunk and You Bunleng, threatened legal action against media outlets that publish or broadcast the names of the suspects. It remains unclear under what authority the court would pursue such action.

The judges said they had “credible information” the prosecution’s introductory submission had been leaked by “a disloyal staff member” of the court, and said, “warning is hereby given that anyone publishing information from this confidential document is liable to be subjected to proceedings for interference with the administration of justice” under court rules.

The investigating judges have come under increased criticism for their handling of Case 003, after they hastily concluded their investigation in April without conducting field investigations or interviewing the two chief suspects.

The court has kept the names of the suspects confidential. However, the Christian Science Monitor, citing court documents in reports on June 10 and June 15, identified them as Khmer Rouge naval commander Meas Muth and air force commander Sou Met.

The US-based paper said they were accused of “shared responsibility” for crimes including torture, murder and forced labor.

“In particular, Sou Met and Meas Mut[h] participated in a criminal plan to purge the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea of all undesirable elements, which resulted in at least thousands and quite probably tens of thousands of deaths,” the Monitor reported, citing court documents.

Tribunal spokesman Huy Vannak said that the judges had not considered any actions yet, but that “any documents that are not issued by the court are unofficial.”

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said Friday the case was already publicly known, but the naming of suspects did “touch on the rights of the accused.”

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