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No Forced Confessions in Tribunal: Groups

Three international rights and justice organizations on Tuesday urged judges at the Khmer Rogue tribunal not to use testimony or forced confessions of prisoners as it moves forward with trials of jailed leaders of the regime.

Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists and Redress Trust issued a joint statement saying the use of forced confessions was counter to UN conventions.

“The organizations urge the [tribunal] to ensure that its proceedings adhere to international law and standards, which would contribute to the Court’s credibility and ability to leave behind a positive and long-lasting legacy,” the groups said. “A failure to do so would run counter to the international community’s fundamental rejection of torture and refusal to provide it any legitimacy, and potentially undermine the integrity of the [tribunal] itself.”

Ang Udom, defense lawyer for Ieng Sary, said lawyers for the defense “absolutely oppose” statements of torture and confession.

Hong Kimsoun, the lawyer for civil parties, said statements made under torture should be raised in the courts “to debate for clarity.”

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the Pre-Trial Chamber of the UN-backed court had received the statement against torture confessions but had not yet made a decision.

Meanwhile, the defense team for jailed Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan joined a motion to have a French judge barred from an upcoming trial at the UN-backed court.

The request follows a motion by Ieng Sary's lawyers claiming investigating judge Marcel Lemonde is pursuing a biased case against four jailed leaders, who will be tried as Case No. 002 at the tribunal.