Critics Question Training of Shortlisted Judges

rights organizations and op­position lawmakers questioned Wednesday how court officials with political affiliations could be expected to preside over the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“All these [officials] are [affiliated with] political parties,” Cam­bo­dian Defenders Project Executive Dir­ec­tor Sok Sam Oeun said Wed­nes­day. “That’s why we don’t trust any of them.”

Thirty-one judges, prosecutors and court officials are ta­king a two-week UNDP-funded training course on humanitarian law.

The UNDP says the training aims to benefit the country’s judicial system and is not necessarily for the tribunal.

But Sean Visoth of the government’s Khmer Rouge tribunal task­force confirmed Tuesday that the 31 have been “shortlisted” for the trial. He said the Supreme Council of Ma­gistracy “have their reasons for choosing them.”

Included in the list are Phnom Penh Municipal Court Chief Pro­se­cutor Ouk Savuth, who has been charged in Hun Sen’s “iron fist” clampdown, and three officials who never went to college or university.

Kek Galabru, founder of local rights group Licadho, questioned the secret nature with which they were chosen by the Supreme Coun­cil of Magistracy.

“It is starting already,” she said. “How were they selected? What was the criteria?”

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay called the list “ridiculous.” He ad­ded that he fears it is too late to change the pool because those se­lected have already taken two training courses.

Documentation Center of Cam­bo­­dia Director Youk Chhang said Tuesday that he is not worried be­cause on­ly up to 11 judges and two prosecutors will be chosen for the tribu­nal. “If the government insists on providing unqualified judges for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, it will only work against them,” he said. “There are plenty out there so they should choose the best.”

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