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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawyers say rights restricted

Lawyers say rights restricted

Ieng Sary attorneys delete files from controversial website.

DEFENCE lawyers at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal have accused judges of attempting to limit their right to publicly protect their client after judges ordered the removal of documents deemed confidential from the lawyers' website.

Attorneys for Ieng Sary said they set up the website in response to the suppression of "embarrassing" defence filings by the Office of Co-Investigating Judges (OCIJ).

But an order issued by judges Tuesday said they represented a breach of confidentiality and threatened the lawyers with sanctions if they were not removed within 48 hours.

"[I]n order to promptly comply with the OCIJ's order, the defence has temporarily removed from the website the allegedly confidential documents," said the lawyer's press release, posted on the website Wednesday, adding however that the website would remain active.

The lawyers also accused co-investigative judges of using confidentiality rules as a way of limiting transparency at the court.

"[We] will not shy away from making a small but important contribution to public and transparent judicial proceedings ... something which has not to date been the case. Nor will we give in to attempts, deliberate or inadvertent, to limit our right to speak out publicly to protect our client's interests," the statement said.

Co-investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde could not be reached  for comment Wednesday.

Observers have cited the conflict over confidentiality as a symptom of the differences between common law and civil law. However, they have also suggested the threat of sanctions had left lawyers with no due process.

Judges forwarded the order to the lawyers' bar associations to determine "appropriate action" against them.

"We are in the process of preparing a detailed submission to essentially reverse and vacate the Order, which we believe is without merit," co-lawyer Michael Karnavas told the Post via email.

"I have not been contacted by my bar association though these matters should not be taken lightly," he added. 



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