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Judges nix request for WikiLeaks’ evidence

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Khmer Rouge tribunal judges have rejected both the prosecution and the defence’s requests to admit cables released in April by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks as evidence, on the grounds that the cables offer no new information and their authenticity would be difficult to verify.

The prosecution had asked the court to consider 26 cables sent between the US Embassy in Phnom Penh and Washington DC from 1973 to 1975; while Khieu Samphan’s defence team had requested the admission of 12 different cables from that period as well as two from 2006 and 2007, the latter of which relate to alleged corruption at the court.

In their response, the judges write that, because “all proposed cables originate from the WikiLeaks website rather than from official State Department sources”, the court is “unable to conclude that material . . . is authentic.”

“Although the parties could seek to obtain authentic copies of the proposed cables from official sources,” the judges write, they assert the “impossibility of obtaining [the authenticated versions of these cables] within a reasonable time.”

The prosecutors had hoped to use some of the cables as evidence of excessive Khmer Rouge killings of civilians and Lon Nol soldiers; Samphan’s lawyers had hoped other cables would buttress claims of Samphan’s good character.

The judges, however, write that, even if authentic, the cables are “repetitious insofar as they tend largely to corroborate other background evidence already on the Case File.”

The judges add that the two more recent cables’ allegations of political bias and corruption at the court are “generalised, and the Khieu Samphan Defence has not demonstrated the relevance of these issues to the Accused’s alleged responsibility in Case 002/01 or facts otherwise at issue at trial”.

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