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Defense Wants Tribunal Corruption Reports

International defense lawyers for jailed Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea have asked the tribunal and the government for information related to corruption allegations in the courts, claiming a fair trial for their client could be at stake.

In an Oct. 31 letter to Council Minister Sok An, lawyers Michiel Pestman and Victor Koppe requested “on a confidential basis…communications and reports from the United Nations relating to issues of corruption at the [tribunal] and any further details of allegations of corruption at the [tribunal] in your possession.”

The tribunal has been hounded by allegations of kickbacks from its inception, and Cambodian staff reported in June they had been forced to pay pats of their salaries to officials to maintain their positions. In 2007, the Open Society Justice Initiative found similiar allegations of kickbacks.

A UN oversight office examined the allegations earlier this year, as donors withheld more than $300,000 from the Cambodian side of the courts.

Findings from the UN investigation have been passed to Cambodian officials, but they have not been made public.

UN tribunal spokesman Peter Foster declined to comment on any ongoing investigations within the courts.

Nuon Chea lawyers requested from Sok An “access to information related to allegations of corruption at the Tribunal, including the report of a UN investigation which has been disclosed to the Royal Government of Cambodia.”

Council of Ministers officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

The lawyers wrote they had tried to obtain documents and information from tribunal officials, but had been unsuccessful. The UN had said it was “not opposed” to the release of the information, the lawyers said.