Judges Threaten To Sanction Ieng Sary Defense

Leveling accusations of misconduct and interference with the ad­ministration of justice, the Khmer Rouge tribunal Tuesday threatened to sanction defense lawyers for former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and gave them 48 hours to remove confidential material from a website they created last month.

In an order distributed to the me­d­ia, Co-Investigating Judges Marcel Lemonde and You Bun­leng said lawyers Michael Kar­na­vas and Ang Udom had repeatedly and deliberately violated the secrecy of their client’s investigation by publishing pleadings and other documents on their website without the court’s permission and against the express instructions of the judges.

The defense in January an­nounc­ed their intention to create the website in order to circumvent the court, which they claim had failed to publish defense pleadings deem­ed embarrassing or critical.

Since creating the website (which can be viewed at http:// sites.google.com/site/iengsaryde fence/), the defense have posted 20 filings, as well as letters. Two filings, made public on the website, concern the possibility of bias among officials working for the co-investigating judges, and others concern the health of Ieng Sary.

In an e-mail Tuesday, Karnavas said the defense had no intention of interfering with the investigation.

“Of course, anything that is deem­­ed confidential, we will re­move im­mediately, and if we think that any of those documents should be in the public domain we will take whatever available measures to reverse or overturn the or­der,” he wrote.

“It is not our intention to interfere with the investigative proceedings but we do expect and will demand a responsive and transparent process.”

Responding to statements by the defense, Lemonde and You Bun­leng found that they had sole discretion in deciding which documents filed before them should be made public. They also rejected accusations that they had suppressed embarrassing or critical arguments.

“These allegations are serious and unsubstantiated. Even assuming, arguendo, that these claims were meritorious, this would not grant the defense carte blanche to determine unilaterally which documents may be made public,” the judges wrote.

Tuesday’s order said that unless all unapproved information related to the investigation is removed within 48 hours, the “lawyers will commit a further breach of this order and will thus expose themselves to legal consequences.”

Tuesday’s order was also forwarded to the Cambodian and Am­er­ican bar associations and to the bar association of the US state of Alaska, where Karnavas was also admitted to practice, “so that these bodies may decide on any appropriate action.”

In cases of misconduct, the tribunal’s procedural rules allow for the imposition of sanctions including the denial of the rights to ap­pear and speak before the court. The Cambodian Bar Association may also discipline lawyers.



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