Cambodia’s troubled tribunal

25 May 2011 by Jared Ferrie

Cambodia’s troubled tribunal has suffered further setbacks in recent weeks as a series of public disputes pitted officials against one another. The spats escalated quickly and dramatically with co-prosecutors issuing opposing statements and investigative judges reportedly threatening the international co-prosecutor with contempt of court.

The disagreements involve a prospective case that the government strongly opposes even though prosecutors say they have sufficient evidence to charge a further five former Khmer Rouge officials. Critics accuse the court’s investigative section of bowing to political pressure by failing to carry out proper investigations, thereby increasing the likelihood that the case will be dropped.

Theary Seng, an activist and founder of the Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, said infighting and political interference could prevent the court from fulfilling its mandate. She called for intervention by international donors and UN headquarters to “salvage” the UN-backed court.

“At this pace, the tribunal is heading for an irreparable crash,” said Seng, whose parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge.

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