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Defense Questions Validity of Documentation at Tribunal

Youk Chhang, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-CAM), in Tuol Sleng school, a former Khmer Rouge interrogation center turned into a museum, where many of the documents he is researching still are stored.

Defense attorneys for jailed Khmer Rouge leaders told the tribunal Monday they want the head of a leading research organization to testify over the authenticity of hundreds of thousands of documents that comprise much of the evidence at the UN-backed court.

Chhang Youk, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, “must appear before this court,” said the lawyer for Nuon Chea, who alongside two other leaders of the Khmer Rouge is facing charges of atrocity crimes including genocide.

Without Chhang Youk’s testimony, the lawyer, Jasper Pauw, said, some 500,000 documents the center provided for trials “cannot be considered as authentic and reliable and must therefore be called inadmissible.”

Monday’s hearing was dedicated to arguments over evidence that will be presented as a trial for Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary goes forward.

The Documentation Center has provided around 500,000 documents to the tribunal since its inception. Chhang Youk said Monday his job was to collect information and to provide to all parties, “including the defense lawyers.”

Michiel Kanavas, a defense lawyer for Ieng Sary, said he too wanted Chhang Youk to testify on the center’s evidence.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Council of Magistracy has failed to approve the UN nomination of a Swiss judge to the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s office of investigating judges, despite a meeting on Friday.

The judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, was nominated to replace a German judge who resigned last year citing political interference at the court.

Kasper-Ansermet has indicated he is willing to push forward with two cases at the UN-backed tribunal that are strongly opposed by top government officials.

Sources could not confirm Monday whether the council had fully rejected the nomination.