Nuon Chea’s Lawyers Claim Security Breach at KRT

Foreign lawyers for Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea said Thursday that secret papers from their office were found floating in a moat outside the Khmer Rouge tribunal premises and that they suspected a breach of the court’s security.

The bizarre development capped a week in which the foreign side of the defense team also denounced the political views of the court’s new victims unit chief, Helen Jarvis, and accused Cambodian Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang of acting on government instructions, something she denied.

At a news conference in a Phnom Penh restaurant, Dutch lawyer Michiel Pestman told reporters that he had discovered the confidential documents on Wednesday afternoon after leaving the tribunal’s government-run detention facility, where he had visited his client Nuon Chea, the former deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.

“I noticed there were some documents floating there among the water lilies,” said Mr Pest-

man. “I managed to fish a couple of documents out of the water, and they turned out to be confidential documents out of our office,” he said.

Mr Pestman said the documents were four pages comprising drafts of a May 27 letter to Ms Jarvis, chief of the Victims Unit, whom the defense this week accused of having publicly ex-

pressed disdain for the rule of law during an internal dispute within an Australian political party three years ago.

“What we do know is that those documents should have been shredded, and they were most probably stolen from our office,” he said.

“Whatever the reason is for the appearance of documents in the moat, it is clear to us we cannot trust the security of our office. We don’t know whether people can get in and out. We don’t know what people do at night. It has far-reaching consequences for us,” the lawyer said.

Lars Olsen, a UN spokesman for the tribunal, said the court’s security office would review the matter, but that as a general rule all of the court’s offices are re-

sponsible for disposing of their own documents.

“At this point, it’s premature to say that anything was stolen,” he said.

Cambodian defense lawyer Son Arun did not appear at Thurs-day’s news conference and did not sign letters the defense sent Wednesday to tribunal prosecutors and investigating judges, which claimed the government is interfering in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s work.

Mr Arun declined to say whe-

ther he supported the actions taken this week by his Dutch and American colleagues.

“I don’t want to say disagree or agree. I keep quiet,” he said by telephone.

Prosecutors at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh said this week they had begun reviewing an appeal sought by the Nuon Chea defense after the Phnom Penh court dismissed their complaint seeking an investigation of al-

leged kickbacks for jobs at the

tribunal.

In an unrelated statement Thursday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee called for an independent anticorruption mechanism at the tribunal.

Negotiations on the mechan-

ism with the government collapsed in April when UN legal officers and Cambodian officials disagreed on whether Cambo-

dian staff should be able to lodge complaints with UN staff.

 

 

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