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Top UN Official To Look Into Political Interference at Tribunal

Patricia O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs.
Patricia O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs.

Patricia O’Brien, the head of the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs, will arrive in Cambodia this week, following the sudden resignation of a UN judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, officials said Monday.

German judge Siegfried Blunk said his Oct. 8 resignation was due to continued statements by top Cambodian officials opposing two cases at the court, which critics have called evidence of continued political interference.

Tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen said the UN was sending O’Brien “to gain the best possible understanding of the concerns of alleged political interference” at the court. No date has been set for her arrival.

A UN spokesman said last week O’Brien plans to meet political and court officials, including Council Minister Sok An, who oversees the court for the government.

Clair Duffy, an independent tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, said there was “no question” that interference allegations had prompted the visit.