The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Monday, January 16, 2012

LEAD: Cambodia claims final say over appointment of tribunal judge

Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government said Monday that the country's judiciary has the right to decline to appoint a United Nations-nominated judge to the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal.

The controversial claim was made by a government spokesman and followed unconfirmed reports from local media that judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet was not endorsed as the court's new international co-investigating judge at a meeting of Cambodia's Supreme Council of Magistracy (SCM) on Friday.

Swiss national Kasper-Ansermet, who had been in limbo for a month until Phnom Penh convened the judicial body, was set to replace controversial German judge Siegfried Blunk. Blunk quit in October citing political interference in two cases currently under investigation, known as Cases 003 and 004.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan declined to confirm the result of Monday's meeting, but emphasised that the body had the power to decide whether to approve a judge or not.

Analysts, however, believe that the SCM may be stretching the limits of its mandate and driving the tribunal deeper into controversy.

'I think this situation has moved from bad to worse. If the SCM has rejected his appointment, it has totally overstepped its authority,' said Clair Duffy, tribunal monitor for Open Society Justice Initiative.

'It is really about Kasper-Ansermet's intention to investigate Cases 003 and 004.'

Senior Cambodian officials have repeatedly said that the government would not permit either case to reach trial at the court. In contrast, Kasper-Ansermet has taken to Twitter to emphasise his commitment to them.

On Sunday, he tweeted in French that he was determined to investigate the cases; a move that he implied could explain 'the resistance of some to my official nomination.'

Martin Nesirky, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, said Monday: 'We have not received any communication from the Royal Government of Cambodia' regarding the status of the Swiss judge's formal appointment.

No comments: