The Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, including Chief Administrator Sean Visoth, has been audited by seven international and local teams, none of which found evidence that Cambodian staff members were forced to pay bribes to keep their jobs, a spokesman for the court confirmed Sunday.
In a radio interview Wednesday, Sean Visoth said that the graft allegations were made by disgruntled members of the Cambodian side of the tribunal who had found new jobs on the UN side.
He called those staff members “destructors,” and said the allegations were symptoms of a power struggle between the two sides of the court. “Who controls this court?” he asked. “This issue is what is causing this problem.”
The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services investigated the graft allegations last October, but invoked treaty protections to keep its report confidential. A German parliament report posted online in November said that Knut Rosandhaug, coordinator of the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials described the tribunal as corrupt and subject to political influence.
Tribunal press officer Reach Sambath confirmed by telephone that none of the auditing teams has found evidence of corruption at the court.
“What I can tell you is that from the public affairs office, the number [of staff members who paid kickbacks] is zero,” he said.
The Economist magazine published an article last week quoting three unnamed sources, who repeated accusations of corruption at the tribunal.
The anonymous court staffers, according to the magazine article, accused Sean Visoth of, “collecting money from every Cambodian in his department, including court employees and Cambodian legal assistants in the office of the co-investigating judges and co-prosecutors.”
They were told that some of that money was intended for deputy Prime Minister Sok An, the article said, clarifying, “There is no indication that the minister took the money.”
Reach Sambath said that he would not comment on allegations made by the anonymous sources quoted. “I won’t comment on the words of someone who will not give their name. It’s like commenting on a ghost.”
Sean Visoth hung up on a reporter when contacted for comment Sunday. He has been on sick leave from the court for more than four months.
Last week, defense lawyers for former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan and former Foreign Affairs Minister Ieng Sary made separate attempts to discuss corruption allegations in court, but were shut down by the presiding judges.
Marcel Lemonde and You Bunleng, the court’s co-investigating judges, announced Friday that alleged corruption at the tribunal was out of their jurisdiction, and they could not respond to requests seeking the disclosure of a UN review of the corruption allegations.
UN legal officers begin a third round of negotiations with government officials today on procedures for reporting misconduct at the tribunal.