Lawyers for former Brother Number Two Nuon Chea have asked the Khmer Rouge tribunal for information about alleged corruption at the court, saying it could harm their clients’ fair trial rights.
In a Friday letter to the court’s Director of Administration Sean Visoth and Deputy Director Knut Rosandhaug, the lawyers said that, while allegations of kickbacks have been highly publicized, their consequences for the defense cannot be assessed without detailed information.
“Because we have not been informed of either the extent of the allegations or the existence and/or appropriateness of the tribunal’s official response to them, we are unable to properly assess the gravity of the situation from the perspective of our client’s fair trial rights,” lawyers Son Arun, Victor Koppe and Michiel Pestman wrote.
Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said he had been unaware of the letter but that staff at all sections of the court can request information.
“I was not informed about the letter, but I think any person in the court has the right to write a letter,” he said. “We will wait and see what kind of response will be done.”
Requesting a response within 30 days, the defense said in their letter that they are seeking the confidential disclosure of the nature of the allegations and the names and positions of any alleged wrongdoers; details of any efforts made by David Tolbert, the UN secretary-general’s special expert on the tribunal, to resolve the matter; the findings of a UN review of the allegations; and information on any measures taken to correct the problem.
Jeffrey Kahan, legal and development adviser to the Cambodian Defenders Project, said Wednesday that documented instances of corruption among the court’s judicial officers would be especially grave for the court’s appearance of independence.
Kahan said that while corruption among administrators, who perform sensitive tasks such as interpreting statements, translating documents and storing evidence, would be grave, proven kickbacks by judges would damage the court’s very foundations.