Sunday, 11 October 2009

Khmer Rouge case judge 'biased'

By Guy De Launey
BBC News, Phnom Penh
Saturday, 10 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Ieng Sary's lawyers say the judge has trampled over his rights

Lawyers for Cambodia's former foreign minister have called for the removal of the judge investigating his role in the Khmer Rouge era.

Ieng Sary is charged with crimes against humanity for his part in the deaths of as many as two million people in the late 1970s.

His defence team claims the judge at the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, Marcel Lemonde, is biased.

The controversy is the latest in a series of problems to hit the tribunal.

'One-sided investigation'

The defence team's claims are based on a sworn statement by a former member of the investigating judge's staff.

Wayne Bastin accused his boss, Mr Lemonde, of instructing his team to concentrate on finding only incriminating evidence.

Under the rules of the tribunal, the investigating judges are supposed to be impartial - and should also seek out evidence which might exonerate defendants.

Mr Bastin admitted that Ieng Sary's defence team had encouraged him to make the statement.

But he insisted that he had enjoyed a good working relationship with Judge Lemonde - and only came forward because he felt "morally and ethically" obliged.

Ieng Sary's lawyers said the investigating judge had "trampled over" the rights of their client.

The tribunal's pre-trial chamber will now rule on whether Mr Lemonde should be disqualified.

It has already rejected two attempts to disqualify court officials on the grounds of bias.

Progress in the case against Ieng Sary and his three co-defendants has been slow.

But closing statements in the trial of a former Khmer Rouge prison chief are expected next month.

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