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Nuon Chea Defense Lawyer Claims Documents Stolen

An international defense lawyer for Pol Pot’s No. 2 lieutenant said Thursday documents related to the Khmer Rouge tribunal were likely stolen from his Phnom Penh office.

The attorney, Michael Pestman, said the incident had made him concerned for his security. Pestman has pushed hard for the office of Cabinet Minister Sok An to release results of a UN investigation on corruption.

Pestman said he noticed some documents floating in a ditch on his way to the office recently. He found there drafts of a confidential letter he’d sent to the court last week.

“They were most probably stolen from our office,” he said.

A tribunal spokesman said an investigation would be conducted into the allegation.

Nuon Chea is facing war crimes and crimes against humanity at the UN-backed tribunal, but his defense team has said the corruption within the tribunal affects the court’s ability to conduct a fair trial.

The tribunal has faced persistent allegations that staff members pay kickbacks for their positions.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the allegations were “only accusations” and noted that the government and UN are working on finding a means to address such allegations in the future.

The UN and Cambodian governemnt are at loggerheads over whether complainants of corruption at the court should remain anonymous. The Cambodian side says so-called whistleblowers should be named.

Pestman also told reporters Thursday that he had “reliable sources” to confirm “the government has power over Cambodian co-prosecutors” to prevent further indictments of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Cambodian prosecutor Chea Leang, who is at odds with her UN counterpart over whether more defendants should be indicted by the tribunal, denied the charge.