Defence team for Nuon Chea summoned at the Municipal Court in Phnom Penh

By Stéphanie Gée

On January 9th, the lawyers for former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea submitted a complaint to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with a view to have an investigation opened on graft allegations concerning Cambodian staff within the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). They received summons from the Municipal Court Prosecutor for Thursday January 22nd , to shed some light on the case. The Defence Team would like to see their complaint taken before a court as they estimate that institutionalised corruption within the ECCC could undermine the fundamental right to a fair trial for their client.

Andrew Ianuzzi of the Defence Team for Nuon Chea spent nearly two hours discussing the matter with Prosecutor Ouk Savuth, who asked him several factual questions, the content of which the lawyer did not wish to reveal. "The Prosecutor seemed well-prepared to me, and although I did not go there fully-optimistic, he proved professional", the lawyer commented, after his formal meeting with the Prosecutor. He turned up after receiving the summons from the court, flanked by security officers of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), who asked him to accompany him. "They were here but I don't know why", the lawyer said.

Andrew Ianuzzi expressed his major and "obvious" concern, namely that Yet Chakrya, deputy co-prosecutor at the ECCC, might have been recently appointed, on top of his function within the Khmer Rouge court, Prosecutor... at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. "We fear a potential conflict of interests and a lack of partiality [if he is to deal with our complaint]", the lawyer explained. His appointment is not said to be effective yet, and Andrew Ianuzzi suggested it could either be postponed until after the investigation regarding the complaint is over, or the examination of the lawsuit could remain under the authority of the current Prosecutor. The latter took heed of the lawyer's suggestions and said he would propose them, the lawyer reported.

After having knocked on many doors to obtain a copy of the report on the results of the United Nations investigation concerning allegations of corruption within the ECCC, the only solution for the Defence Team for Nuon Chea was to refer the matter to somebody who would have authority to ask for such a document. And it was the Municipal Court, Andrew Ianuzzi explains. The lawyer naturally gave his recommendation to the Prosecutor to request a copy of the report...

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