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Complaint about corruption allegations at the ECCC: Cambodian judges offended

Written By vibykhmer on Sunday, January 11, 2009 | 4:24 AM

Sunday, January 11, 2009

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In a communiqué released on Friday January 9th, Cambodian judges at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), in charge of trying former Khmer Rouge leaders, reacted strongly against the complaint submitted to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court by Nuon Chea's co-lawyers regarding allegations of corruption within the ECCC.
National judges working at the hybrid court, composed of Cambodian and foreign magistrates, say they “deeply regret hearing the new reports today that co-lawyers Mr. Michiel PESTMAN and Mr. Victor KOPPE and Mr. Andrew IANUZZI have filed a complaint with the Municipal Court of Phnom Penh charging corruption within the ECCC, which states that this may infringe the fundamental right to fair trial and that a portion of national judges' salaries are used as kickbacks to government officials”.

Cambodian judges particularly reproached the lawyers for having leaked their action to “the public media”, “causing confusion and seriously affecting the honour and dignity of all individual judges and this institution as a whole”.

In the same release, they go back on the fact that all judges at the ECCC “entered into service by decision of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, chaired by His Majesty the King of the Cambodia”, who signed a Royal Decree appointing them to work in the court.

“Therefore”, the Cambodian judges argue, “there is no reason for judges to cut their salaries to pay kickbacks to government officials, as alleged. We absolutely reject such an accusation.”

Finally, the national ECCC judges state that if the accusation “stems from bad faith in putting the blame on the judges”, they reserve the right “to legal recourse against any individuals who have provoked such a problem”.

The complaint lodged by the Defence Team for former Khmer Rouge Nuon Chea on January 8th was officially registered at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court the morning after it was submitted. It is now up to the Municipal Court to decide whether an investigation on allegations of corruption concerning ECCC Cambodian staff needs to be launched or not.


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