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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KRT staff targeted by lawyers

KRT staff targeted by lawyers

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090109_01.jpg

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

Nuon Chea’s co-lawyer Michiel Pestman speaks to reporters Thursday outside the Municipal Court.

LAWYERS for former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea have requested the Phnom Penh Municipal Court initiate criminal proceedings against Sean Visoth, the government's top official to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, over alleged corruption at the UN-backed court.

In a complaint filed Thursday, the defence team, whose client has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, also urged investigation into the role of Keo Thyvuth, the tribunal's former chief of personnel, amid accusations that Cambodian tribunal employees were forced to kick back a percentage of their salaries to their bosses.

"We are hoping that at least the prosecutor and the judiciary will be willing to do something about [the corruption allegations] - the government has failed to do anything," co-lawyer Michiel Pestman told the Post.

In their complaint, the lawyers say that shortly after the government received the results of a United Nations probe into the  graft allegations, Keo Thyvuth was transferred and Sean Visoth went on leave "until further notice".

This, the complaint states, indicates that both may have violated criminal law by "perpetrating, facilitating, aiding and/or abetting an organised regime of institutional corruption at the ECCC during the pending judicial investigation".

The UN's findings into the graft allegations have never been made public.

"Allegations have been made, but we don't know whether they are true as we have not been given access to any report," he said, adding that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who also acts as minister in charge of the tribunal, has refused to provide an explanation.

"[This] suggests that maybe the corruption is wider spread than we originally thought," he added.

Helen Jarvis, the court's chief of public affairs, said that Sean Visoth was on sick leave, adding that she had not seen the complaint and could not comment.

The court will decide today whether to accept the lawyers' complaint. Pestman said that the court's failure to address the graft allegations would undermine his client's right to a fair trial and force him to rethink his involvement in the tribunal.

"I will have to consider whether I actually want to continue working in this system," he said.

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