News Anchor Refuses To Cover KR Tribunal

Soy Sopheap, the well-known CTN news anchor, said Monday that he is boycotting coverage of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“I will stop reporting what is happening at the court,” he said. “If CTN still wants to cover what’s go­ing on at the court, I will not take that assignment.”

Soy Sopheap’s self-imposed boycott began after the confidential Feb 26 visit by tribunal suspect Duch to the Choeung Ek killing fields, where Duch reconstructed the scenes of his alleged crimes for tribunal judges and a private French camera crew.

Soy Sopheap and a cameraman were able to capture footage of Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, from just beyond the perimeter fence of the killing fields.

“Because people know me and who I am and my role as a journalist, I was able to keep walking and walking and walking and get to the gate,” he said.

He said he did not believe he had done anything wrong until court officials asked CTN not to broadcast the images—a request the station honored—and accused him of offering to sell the footage for $35,000, a charge Soy Sopheap says is not true.

“All my friends can witness I erased all the pictures I took,” he said.

Soy Sopheap said he has spent years bringing news of the tribunal to the world, first at the Kyodo News service and then at CTN.

“I should receive appreciation from the court. Instead I receive a warning,” he said. He vowed that until the court clarifies its media policy and offers a written apology, he would dedicate himself to covering land evictions and the election instead.

Tribunal Public Affairs Chief Helen Jarvis declined to comment Monday, saying she had not heard of Soy Sopheap’s decision.

Peter Foster, the court’s UN Pub­­lic Affairs Officer, said by e-mail Mon­day that CTN had voluntarily complied with the court’s request not to air the footage.

“We also heard a rumor that foot­­age of the investigation from an un­known source was available for sale on the ‘black market’ and naturally checked the accuracy of this rumor with a few sources in the media industry, including CTN. We found no indication that the rumor was true,” Foster wrote.

“The ECCC has enjoyed excellent cooperation and support from everyone at CTN. This cooperation has been of tremendous benefit to the court, to CTN and most im­portantly to the people of Cam­bodia. We are confident that this pos­itive relationship will continue,” he said.

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