The Khmer Rouge tribunal has yet to consider a defense attempt begun two months ago to unseat Judge Nil Nonn, president of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Trial Chamber, for alleged corruption. A decision by the court on Tuesday also rejected a defense motion to keep Judge Nonn from accessing a case file in preparation for next year’s trial.
Prior to the indictment of four Khmer Rouge leaders in September, defense lawyers had been widely expected to raise Judge Nonn’s apparent admissions on US television in 2002 that he had accepted payment from litigants before Battambang Provincial Court.
Judge Nonn has since denied ever accepting bribes.
Lawyers for former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary were the first to seek his disqualification, saying in September that such purported admissions were both grounds for investigation and disqualification. However the Trial Chamber rejected these motions on a technicality, saying Ieng Sary’s case was not yet before the chamber and that the defense had used the wrong case number.
The court’s Pre-Trial Chamber on Tuesday also rejected an October defense motion asking pretrial judges to “forbid” Judge Nonn from accessing the court’s second case file.
“[T]he co-lawyers have not demonstrated to the Pre-Trial Chamber that Judge Nonn’s pretrial access to the case file ‘for the purposes of advance preparation for trial’ risks compromising the fairness of pretrial or trial proceedings,” the Pre-Trial Chamber wrote, finding the defense motion inadmissible.
“This matter can neither be wished away nor conveniently swept under the carpet,” defense lawyers Michael Karnavas and Ang Udom wrote in a summary posted to their website in September. “An ostrich-like tactic by the Trial Chamber is not only unbecoming of the model court the [tribunal] is expected to be for Cambodia, but it is also hopelessly ineffectual.”