The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s co-investigating judges last week scrapped a defense motion calling on French Judge Marcel Lemonde to investigate his Cambodian colleague You Bunleng for alleged political bias.
Lawyers for Brother Number Two Nuon Chea accused Judge Bunleng in June of acting on official instructions after he backed out of investigations that are opposed by the government when word of his participation was revealed in the press.
In motions before both the Pre-Trial Chamber and the co-investigating judges on July 7, Dutch defense lawyers Victor Koppe and Michiel Pestman said Judge Bunleng’s behavior was “ample reason” to suspect outside influence in the work of the court and that he should be investigated with a view to sanctions.
The Pre-Trial Chamber on July 16 rejected the motion, saying it could not consider a motion that was also before the co-investigating judges.
In a sharply worded order on Aug 13, the co-investigating judges also rejected the request on procedural grounds, saying that the law and court procedure did not allow for a motion to be submitted to before one co-investigating judge but not the other.
The rejected motion followed a similar request filed by the Nuon Chea team on June 17 seeking Judge Bunleng’s disqualification for political bias as result of his crossing out of his own signature. No decision has been made.
The defense in November also called for an investigation for contempt of court as a result of public remarks made by Prime Minister Hun Sen that the defense said could have frightened witnesses who later flouted summonses from the tribunal. This motion remains before the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber.
Mr Pestman, one of the Nuon Chea defense lawyers, said yesterday that the co-investigating judges were avoiding a decision on an important matter.
“We will certainly exercise our right of appeal and take up the matter with” the Pre-Trial Chamber, he wrote in an e-mail. “[W]e hope and expect the [Pre-Trial Chamber] to address the problem urgently, thoroughly, and transparently—in order to restore confidence in the investigative process and the tribunal as a whole.”