Potential witnesses at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have complained of intimidation at the hands of the court’s investigators, defense lawyers for the regime’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ieng Sary alleged in a letter sent to the court’s co-investigating judges this week.
“It has come to our attention that you have received complaints from potential witnesses who feel that they have been intimidated and threatened by” investigators, defense lawyers Ang Udom and Michael Karnavas wrote in a letter dated Monday.
If intimidation, did occur, the lawyers said, “the judicial investigation that has been conducted thus far is deeply flawed, and…any information received by these witnesses is very likely to be unreliable.”
The tribunal’s co-investigating judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng disagreed last year over whether to seek the testimony of retired King Norodom Sihanouk and six senior CPP officials. Judge Lemonde found last month that employing coercive measures to gain the cooperation of high profile witnesses would be ineffective.
Lars Olsen, the tribunal’s legal affairs spokesman, declined yesterday to comment on whether any witnesses had complained of intimidation at the hand of investigators.
“I am prevented from commenting on substance on a document which has been illegally leaked to the media,” Mr Olsen said. “The co-investigating judges will address the issue to the requesting party in accordance with the procedures we have at the court. These kinds of exchanges are usually confidential,” he said.
With other defense teams, the Ieng Sary team has repeatedly questioned the fairness and objectivity of the court’s second investigation. In October, they along with two other defense teams moved to have Judge Lemonde disqualified after a former investigator claimed the judge was biased against uncovering evidence that could help exonerate the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s suspects.
In their letter this week, Ieng Sary’s lawyers cited several other instances of what they called “lapses of witness safety and security measures” at the court, including allegations that Judge Lemonde allowed a sensitive witness interview to be secretly filmed.