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US urged to ‘denounce’ KRT political influence

US urged to ‘denounce’ KRT political influence

A United States Congressman has called on the US to take action against alleged political interference at the Khmer Rouge tribunal and tie future funding to the court to a full investigation in Case 003.

Congressman Ed Royce, a California Republican, wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to urge the US to “denounce” alleged interference at the tribunal by the Cambodian government. He also said the US should condition any future funding to, “at the very least”, an investigation in Case 003 that satisfies requests made by international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley.

“Failing to do so would reinforce the sense of impunity currently enjoyed by those former Khmer Rouge commanders, who have not been held accountable for their actions,” Royce wrote in a letter dated last month and posted online yesterday.

Cayley requested for further investigation into Case 003 in May after the court’s co-investigating judges announced that their investigation was finished, despite the apparent fact that no suspects had been interviewed. National co-prosecutor Chea Leang has opposed prosecutions in Case 003, as has the Cambodian government.

Royce said Congress could not legally fund the court until Secretary Clinton “certified” that the United Nations and the Cambodian government “are taking credible steps to address allegations of corruption and mismanagement” at the court, noting that the US did not support the tribunal before 2009 due to concerns regarding its impartiality.

US embassy spokesman Mark Wenig said in an email yesterday that “there has been no final decision” on additional financial support to the court.

When asked whether the State Department would support Royce’s proposal on funding the court, Wenig said: “The US government believes that the Tribunal law and its internal rules can effectively address and resolve differences that may arise during the investigative phase and pretrial process.”

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday that the government did not influence “any decision at all” at the court and said the Khmer Rouge came to power because of US policy towards Cambodia during the 1970s.

“No matter what the decision is”, he added, the tribunal “belongs to the interests of Cambodia and the UN” and not those of any other party.

Stephen Rapp, US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes, said during a visit to Cambodia last month that the US administration was “working with congress to make a similar contribution” to what had been given in previous years. The US gave US$5 million to the court last year.

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