The two investigating judges for the Khmer Rouge tribunal have denied a request from defense lawyers to investigate corruption allegations in the court’s administration office.
The allegations have already cost the court donor support, and defense attorneys for the regime’s jailed ideologue, Nuon Chea, and former foreign minister, Ieng Sary, have begun to use the court’s inability to tackle the allegations as evidence their clients will not receive fair trials.
In a statement dated April 3, investigating judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde said they had “no authority” to investigate the allegations.
The Open Society Justice Initiative, an organization monitoring the court, publicized the allegations in February 2007, claiming that, “Cambodian personnel, including judges, must kick back a significant percentage of their wages to Cambodian government officials in exchange for their positions on the court.”
Four months later, according to a complaint by defense attorneys, “the United Nations Development Program released a similarly damning report.”
UNDP has since held back around $750,000 in funding, while the UN and Cambodian negotiators have failed to reach an agreement on how allegations should be handled.
“Corruption has been widespread through my client’s upcoming official hearing,” said Son Arun, Cambodian counsel for Nuon Chea. “When there is corruption, there will not be justice.”
And Udom, defense attorney for Ieng Sary, said the judges’ decision not to investigate was “not proper.”
“The court is filled with corruption allegations,” he said. “We cannot find justice for any party.”
Both attorneys said they would appeal the investigation decision to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the court.
One court monitor, Lath Ky, of the rights group Adhoc, said judges should investigate the charges, for the sake of “effectiveness, transparency and justice at the tribunal.”