The Khmer Rouge tribunal last week rejected a second attempt to unseat the French Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde, saying defense allegations of bias and misconduct were unsubstantiated or without merit.
The defense motions filed in December sought to disqualify Judge Lemonde from investigating the court’s five current detainees on the basis of a second set of allegations made by renegade former UN investigator Wayne Bastin. The court in December rejected a similar motion based on an initial statement by Mr Bastin, who stepped down in September as head of intelligence and analysis under Judge Lemonde and later accused the judge of instructing investigators to curtail their search for evidence favoring the defense.
Though the court has rejected them, the highly unusual and public nature of Mr Bastin’s allegations worsened the acrimony of Judge Lemonde’s relations with defense lawyers, who in November publicly demanded his resignation.
A second former investigator, Abraham Haddad, threatened legal action against the court in January, alleging misuse of proprietary computer software.
In their most recent motions for the judge’s disqualification, defense lawyers in December argued that Mr Bastin’s allegations demonstrated “a cluster of judicial misconduct and investigatory irregularities” indicating bias against those charged by the court.
Mr Bastin’s December statement accused Judge Lemonde of jeopardizing the confidentiality of his own investigation by allowing outsiders access to a prosecution database, deliberately concealing a witness list from the Cambodian side of his office and of allowing filmmakers to secretly film a witness interview, among other claims.
However, in a decision published by the court on June 16, the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber unanimously found that none of Mr Bastin’s allegations were sufficiently documented to overturn the presumption of impartiality that all tribunal judges enjoy.
The judges said Mr Bastin’s statements, some of which amounted to “hearsay upon hearsay,” were not enough.
“The Pre-Trial Chamber further finds that even when the evidence would be found sufficient, the allegation made does not contribute to the allegation of bias or appearance of bias,” the judges wrote.