Nuon Chea Team Asks Sok An for Graft Findings

Following an unsuccessful re­quest to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, lawyers for Brother No 2 Nuon Chea have asked Cabinet Minister Sok An to share the findings of a recent UN review of kickback allegations at the court.

The request, contained in an Oct 31 letter obtained Thursday, was the team’s second request since September for information they say could help determine whether their client’s fair trial rights are in jeopardy.

International and Cambodian tribunal administrators last month gave differing reasons for denying the request.

The Cambodian side said it was unable to provide the information while the UN side said it could be dis­closed with the Cam­bodian government’s permission.

Michiel Pestman and Victor Koppe, international counsel for Nuon Chea, said the court’s two re­sponses required that the lawyers pursue their request to a higher authority.

“Given the stated positions of the United Nations and the Cam­bo­dian side of the ECCC, it is left for us to seek assistance from your office,” they wrote, asking for the confidential disclosure of UN correspondence and reports relating to corruption at the court and any further information in Sok An’s possession.

“We would be grateful to re­ceive your written response within 30 days,” they added.

Council of Ministers officials said this week that Sok An was traveling and ministry adviser Pen Ngoeun could not be reach­ed for comment.

The Council of Ministers an­nounced in September that it had received the findings of the re­view by the UN Office of Inter­nal Over­sight Services, but said it was dis­may­ed that Cam­bodian officials had been identified in UN cor­res­pondence.

The council also reiterated the government’s position that any response to alleged corruption allegations on the Cambodian side falls under the government’s jurisdiction.

Tribunal and government officials have declined to discuss the contents of the UN findings.

However, in a report last month the Open Society Justice Initiative said information receiv­ed indicated the OIOS findings had called for an investigation of the allegations.

Michael Karnavas, international counsel for former Foreign Min­ister Ieng Sary, said Thurs­day he shared the Nuon Chea team’s concerns.

“[H]ow can the accused before the ECCC have any confidence in being treated fairly throughout the process if allegations of corruption within the ECCC are not vetted in the open?” he wrote in an e-mail.

“If the possibility exists that the rights of the accused may be im­pacted as a result of certain im­proprieties uncovered by the in­vestigation, then the accused should be afforded their right to make the necessary and appropriate challenges,” he wrote.

“The UN and the international donors should walk their talk and disclose the results of the investigation,” he added.

Cambodian court officials have touted their commitment to preventing irregularities at the tribunal and noted the establishment of a reporting mechanism for use on the Cam­bodian side.

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