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Ieng Sary Defense Moves to Bar French Judge

The defense team for jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Sary moved on Friday to have French investigating judge Marcel Lemonde removed from a UN-backed tribunal case, claiming he was conducting a biased investigation.

Lemonde provoked a response from Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this week by summoning six Cambodian government officials to appear as witnesses in the court’s second case, against four jailed leaders, including Ieng Sary.

“We insist he withdraw himself from Case 002,” defense attorney Ang Udom said. “We have witnesses who have indicated he is biased. According to witnesses, he instructed to seek evidence for guilt, rather than evidence to release the charged.”

Lemonde could not be reached for comment. Tribunal legal affairs officer Lars Olsen said the judge “doesn’t want to comment publicly on this allegation.”

If the complaint goes to the Pre-Trial Chamber, “he will give all information to the…chamber,” Olsen said.

Long Panhavuth, a project officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, which monitors the tribunal, said the complaint may only refer to Ieng Sary, as other defense teams have not filed, leaving Lemonde a free hand in other parts of the case.

Meanwhile, the six officials summoned Wednesday remained mostly silent on whether they would comply with the order, following statements by Hun Sen on Thursday calling them plaintiffs, not witnesses.

Among those summoned, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said he had not decided yet whether he would answer the summons. Heng Samrin, a former Khmer Rouge cadre and now head of the National Assembly, declined to comment Friday.