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Japanese Tribunal Judge Seeks To Resign

U.N.-assisted tribunal's judges, Motoo Noguchi, center, Japanese, sits between Cambodian, Sim Rith, left, and Ya Narin, right, during a meeting in Phnom Penh, file photo.

A Japanese judge at the UN-backed Khmer Rogue tribunal hopes to resign his post at the Supreme Court Chamber, a court official said Wednesday.

Motoo Noguchi has sent a resignation letter to UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, proposing to finish his work in July, when he will return to his job at Japan’s Ministry of Justice.

Tribunal spokeswoman Yuko Maeda said the judge had not expected the tribunal proceedings to last as long as they have and could not continue.

With the completion of the tribunal’s first case, against torture chief Duch, earlier this year, “he thought this was the right moment to step down,” she said. However, his resignation has yet to be accepted officially, she added.

Noguchi began work at the hybrid court in 2006. He worked on the appeals for the sentencing of Duch, who was originally given a commuted sentence of 19 years but later received a life term in prison for his supervisory role over the infamous Tuol Sleng torture center.

Noguchi’s resignation would follow closely after that of controversial investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, who quit earlier this year citing political interference and non-cooperation from his Cambodian counterpart.

Lat Ky, a tribunal monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said the resigning judges should be replaced. But first the tribunal must determine how far it will go.

“The solution is to sit down and decide how much longer the court will move forward,” he said. “If so, they should let the public know clearly, especially the families of victims.”