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Defence must address corruption

Dear Editor,

In response

to Peter Annear's letter (‘What is a legitimate defence for KRT

accused?', June 8), Mr Annear only provides half the story in his

attempt to discredit efforts of the defence teams at the Khmer Rouge

tribunal. He points out, quite correctly, that all accused have the

right to a fair trial before going on to say that they should limit

themselves to seeking to "convince the court of the innocence of the

parties".

But a basic component of a fair trial is that it should

take place before an independent and impartial tribunal. Under

international law, it is as proper for a defence team to raise concerns

as to a court's lack of independence and impartiality as to

deficiencies in the evidence advanced in support of the specific

charges. To suggest otherwise would make defence counsel complicit in a

potentially illegitimate, even unlawful, enterprise and would run

counter to the fundamental ethical obligation of all defence counsel to

pursue every lawful means to vindicate an accused's rights to a fair

trial in the full sense of the term.

By way of analogy, on Mr

Annear's crimped understanding of a fair trial, he would limit Aung San

Suu Kyi's defence counsel to simply contest factual elements of the

current criminal charges against her, leaving untested the systemic

grave deficiencies of Myanmar's politically controlled courts. I doubt

the Cambodian people would be interested in such a narrowly scripted,

stage-managed process in this country, and, as for Mr Annear's desire

for a settled historical record, neither Khmers nor the broader

international community will be inclined to accept the results of a

process tainted by unresolved allegations of corruption and executive

interference of the most serious character.

Meas Nak

Phnom Penh

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