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Lawyers wrap probe ahead of ICC filing

A group of international lawyers commissioned by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to investigate alleged human rights abuses on the part of the government has finished its inquiry and is preparing a brief to the International Criminal Court, the party and the lead lawyer said yesterday.

According to CNRP public affairs head Mu Sochua and international lawyer Richard Rogers, who led the investigation, the team collected evidence on such potential crimes as forced evictions and state-sanctioned violence carried out by the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen since 2002, and expects to make its filing to the ICC next month.

“They said that they have enough evidence,” Sochua said yesterday, adding that the investigation was free from party influence. “We did not tell them to do anything – it was up to them.”

In an email yesterday, Rogers expressed optimism that the evidence gathered over the course of a preliminary investigation and a six-day visit to Cambodia was sufficient to justify a charge of crimes against humanity.

“The strongest evidence relates to the land-grabbing and forcible evictions, which have led to over half a million people being forcibly transferred,” Rogers said. “Indigenous groups have suffered disproportionately.”

“The evidence suggests that this forcible transfer was widespread, systematic, and formed part of an organised policy,” he added. “Additional crimes . . . including murder, torture, false imprisonment and persecution – provide further support to our allegation.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan, however, said the government was unconcerned by the potential ICC case, saying that the investigation lacked legitimacy because Rogers and his colleagues are not members of the Bar Association of the Kingdom Cambodia.

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