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Information minister rebuts interference allegations

Information minister rebuts interference allegations

MINISTER of Information Khieu Kanharith yesterday rejected assertions from two international judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal that he and other government officials may have interfered with the work of the court.

In a decision released by the tribunal on Friday, international Pre-Trial Chamber judges Rowan Downing and Catherine Marchi-Uhel said comments made by Khieu Kanharith last year “may amount to an interference or reflect other efforts to prevent the testimony” of six government officials summoned to appear at the court.

They recommended an internal investigation to determine if any interference had in fact occurred, though the three Cambodian judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber sided against them, preventing such an inquest from taking place.

Khieu Kanharith rejected the notion that any interference had taken place at the court.

“If there was interference from the government, would those foreign judges agree to stay on? Would they be under the control of the government?” he said. “I think people talking about this have their own political agenda. They are not working for the court, but have only come here to provoke for some other purpose.”

Khieu Kanharaith said last year that foreign officials at the tribunal could “pack their clothes and return home” if they disagreed with the government’s stated opposition to the summonses for the officials. Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the time that he too opposed the summonses, citing concerns about unfairness for the defendants.

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