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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

UN expresses concern at transfer of Khmer Rouge tribunal judge

Phnom Penh - The United Nations has officially expressed concern at the proposed transfer of a key Cambodian judge in the upcoming Khmer Rouge tribunal and requested the Cambodian government to reconsider, a spokesman said Wednesday. Co-investigating judge for the 56-million dollar joint UN-Cambodia hearings, You Bunleng, was abruptly named as the new president of the Cambodian Court of Appeal earlier this month after its former head, Ly Vuoch Leng, was removed amidst a bribery scandal.

His transfer out of the Khmer Rouge tribunal sparked immediate protests from advocates of a swift progression of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) who said they feared the move would cause further delays to an already drawn-out process.

UN-appointed spokesman for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) Peter Foster confirmed by telephone Wednesday that the official letter had been passed to the Cambodian permanent representative in New York last Thursday and said the UN was now awaiting a reply.

In the missive, the UN "officially expresses concern at the transfer of Judge You Bunleng to the Cambodian Court of Appeals" and "invites the government to consider keeping him in his current position," Foster said.

Attempts to bring to trial a handful of aging and often ailing Khmer Rouge leaders held responsible for the deaths of up to 2 million Cambodians during the movement's 1975-79 Democratic Kampuchea regime have constantly stalled since the UN agreed to participate in 2003.

Former leader Pol Pot died at his home in 1998. Former military commander Ta Mok died in hospital last year.

Judge Bunleng had just begun work in earnest with his UN-appointed colleague Marcel Lemonde. The ECCC has been budgeted to last just three years.

Cambodian ECCC media spokesman Reach Sambath also confirmed that he was aware of the UN request.

"Both sides are working on the issue to ensure justice keeps moving forward," Sambath said by telephone.

Kang Kech leu, alias Duch, former commandant of the S-21 secret prison where up to 14,000 people are alleged to have been tortured or killed, is the only person to be indicted so far. However, prosecutors have said five possible names have already been put forward and critics have called for still more prosecutions.

In a statement issued last Thursday, Judge Bunleng said it was an honour to be appointed to the Appeal Court but that "as long as the ECCC considers my presence to be essential it is my duty to continue, ensuring there is no interruption or delay in the process."

"I will continue my mission at the ECCC until such time as an appropriate and smooth transition can be made, and I have already begun consultation with my staff and my international counterpart to reach a mutually acceptable and constructive solution that does not disrupt our work," he added.
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Cambodia defy Bangladesh

Substitute Keo Kosal's 90th minute equaliser denied Bangladesh from a certain win in the Nehru Cup as they drew 1-1 with Cambodia at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi yesterday.

The Cambodian striker, who almost scored level in the 82nd minute but saw his drive from 20 yards curl just out of the sidebar, stabbed the ball home from eight yards after the tired Bangladesh backline failed to stop a darting low cross by another substitute Sam Al Nesa from the right flank.

Abul Hossain had given Bangladesh a deserved lead on the half hour when his glancing header on a corner by Alfaz Ahmed gave Cambodian goalkeeper Oum Veasna no chance.

Bangladesh's Indian coach Syed Nayeemuddin made one change in the line-up from the sides that lost 2-0 to Syria and 1-0 to India by bringing in veteran Alfaz for Robin.

The striking duo, Alfaz and Emily, generated enough attacks but Bangladesh failed to capitalise on their superior ball possession.

Their first real chance came after 15 minutes when Emily played superb overhead pass for Alfaz who miskicked under pressure from a defender as Veasnapicke dup the ball comfortably.

Abul, adjudged man-of-the-match, then released Emily with a through from the midfield seven minutes later but the striker's first touch took the ball out of his control and allowed Veasna to clear for a corner.

Ariful, whose defensive errors cost Bangladesh three goals in the tournament in the first two games, then forced a superb save when his 40-yard lob was palmed over for a corner by Veasna.

The resulting corner put Bangladesh ahead as Abul, unmarked by the rival defence, put a free header into the far corner.

Veasna fumbled on two occasions in the last five minutes before the break but Bangladeshi forwards failed to take the rebounds.

Playing their third match inside five days, Bangladeshi booters showed tired legs immediately after the interval but Cambodia, who lost 4-3 to Kyrgyzstan in their opener, hardly threatened to score despite good runs on the break.

Bangladesh again picked up the tempo and Ariful's another long-range effort was spectacularly punched out by Veasna in the 71st minute.

Sam El Nasa took the first shot on the rival goal but Biplab was not disturbed at all but he had little to do when Kosal put a right-footer into the far corner on the brink of the final whistle.

Nayeemuddin admitted after the match that he was disappointed not to win the game.

"We made one mistake and paid for it. The defenders should have covered after going up but they failed. Anyway, I am proud of my players because they have played tremendously well," said Nayeem, whose boys take on Kyrgyzstan in their last match tomorrow.

"The players came ere just after a long league and here also, they are playing with the shortest possible gap," he added.

Syria and hosts India, who meet today, lead the round-robin league with six points after two outings each.

Kyrgyzstan have three points while Bangladesh, the only team to have played three games, and Cambodia are bottom of the table with one point each.

The top two teams will meet in the August 29 final.

BANGLADESH TEAM: Biplab, Ariful, Rajani, Nazrul, Waly, Zahid, Arman Aziz, Abul, Titu, Emily, Alfaz (Robin, 56 and Ujjal, 82).

AFP adds: Favourites Syria brushed aside Kyrgyzstan 4-1 on Tuesday to record their second successive win in the five-nation meet.

Maher El Sayed put Syria ahead in the seventh minute, but Kyrgyzstan were lucky to draw level six minutes later when Syrian defender Ali Dyeb lobbed the ball into his own goal while trying to clear.

Zyad Chaabo shot Syria ahead again a minute before halftime and the emphatic victory was sealed by two second-half goals from Mohammed Alzeno in the 70th minute and Abraheim Al-Hasan in the 82nd.
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Indonesia draws with Cambodia

JAKARTA: Indonesia tied in a scoreless draw against host Cambodia in their Group A match of the Under-17 ASEAN Football Federation Championship in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

"We will face tougher challenges with Malaysia and Thailand, who are stronger than Brunei Darussalam and Cambodia," coach Urias Rahantoknam said in a statement.

Indonesia, who still tops Group A with 4 points, will face Malaysia on Thursday and Thailand next Monday.

On Monday, the team beat Brunei Darussalam 3-0.

Vietnam is still in the Group B top position with three points after winning 2-0 over Singapore on Monday. -- JP

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