Defense lawyers for Brother Number Two Nuon Chea and former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary have asked the Khmer Rouge tribunal itself to investigate longstanding kickback allegations, claiming the court’s integrity and fairness may be at stake.
In a request lodged last week, lawyers for Nuon Chea asked tribunal Co-Investigating Judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde to obtain the confidential findings of a UN review of kickback allegations performed last year, according to a summary of a motion posted Saturday to the Ieng Sary team’s independent website. That UN review reportedly called for a full investigation into the kickback
In the summary, Ieng Sary’s lawyers, Michael Karnavas and Ang Udom, said they fully supported the Nuon Chea team’s request, which they were adopting in their own request for judicial investigators to obtain the review.
“The corruption allegations suggest that all personnel within the Office of Administration—and possibly beyond—may be professionally compromised,” Karnavas and Ang Udom wrote. “If staff members entrusted with sensitive tasks are willing to engage in graft, then those individuals may be equally willing to follow improper instructions.”
Nuon Chea’s foreign lawyers, Victor Koppe, Michiel Pestman and legal consultant Andrew Ianuzzi, have since September unsuccessfully asked both the government and the UN for the results of the findings.
You Bunleng was among the Cambodian judges who in January threatened legal action after the Nuon Chea team opened a preliminary investigation at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court seeking both an investigation of the kickback allegations and the results of the UN review.
Responding to the review findings in September, the government asserted legal jurisdiction over any misconduct by Cambodian staff and said appropriate action would be taken if the UN gave Cambodian authorities original complaints, which were kept secret to protect the identities of the complainants.
Ianuzzi confirmed Sunday that the summary accurately portrayed the Nuon Chea team’s request and said the court was capable of investigating itself.
“In this case, it’s particularly appropriate because we’ve exhausted all the options. Somebody’s got to be willing to give us the relief we’re asking for,” he said.