The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Saturday, September 03, 2011

US broadcaster stands by its reporting in contempt of court row

Phnom Penh - US broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) on Friday shrugged off a contempt of court citation by judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, describing it as 'unwarranted.'

VOA added that it was concerned the citation could have a 'chilling effect' on coverage of the UN-backed court.

Investigating judges at the war crimes court said Wednesday that they had started proceedings against VOA after its Cambodian language service, VOA Khmer, quoted from a confidential court document and showed the document in two broadcasts in August.

The document, which was leaked this year, is the prosecution's file detailing crimes allegedly committed by three suspects in the tribunal's fourth case. The investigating judges are currently examining those allegations. 

'The careful use of confidential sources and documents that provide important insight into critical issues is a well-established practice by independent journalists the world over,' VOA argued in a statement.

'Furthermore, the documents in question have been used by other news organizations,' the broadcaster said.

The court estimated that 1.7 million to 2.2 million people died during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule of Cambodia. The three suspects in case four are under investigation for their alleged roles in some of those deaths.

On Thursday, tribunal spokeswoman Yuko Maeda said the investigating judges would not disclose any details of the contempt investigation, but she said judges were pursuing VOA Khmer because 'they had already given a public warning in June [about quoting from the case four file, and VOA still quoted from that confidential document.'

Legal experts said this week that it was unclear how the court would proceed against VOA Khmer not least since the staff involved are based at VOA's headquarters in Washington.

The investigating judges office was widely criticized this year for closing its third case, which was against two former Khmer Rouge military officers, without interviewing the two suspects or investigating crime sites.

Its decision to close that case, which the international prosecutor has appealed, led to a number of foreign staff resigning from the office.

The investigating judges later denied accusations they were bending to the will of the Cambodian government, which has stated repeatedly it would not permit any prosecutions beyond case two. Observers said they fear case four would also be scuttled.

Case two, testimony in which was expected to start next year, sees the four surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The elderly defendants have denied all charges.

In its first case, the court last year sentenced the regime's security chief, Comrade Duch, to 30 years in prison after finding him guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Duch has appealed his conviction.

This week, the tribunal's Supreme Court chamber said it would try to rule on Duch's appeal by the end of this year.
Read more!

Suthep reaffirms no secret talks with Cambodia

BANGKOK, Sept 3 - Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Saturday denied Cambodia's claims over alleged secret talks on overlapping oil and gas-rich maritime territories during the tenure of Abhisit Vejjajiva administration, while challenging the Thai government to speed up investigation of the matter.

Mr Suthep made remarks following a statement by the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA) claiming that secret meetings between him and his Cambodian counterpart Sok An were held several times in various locations such as Cambodia’s Kandal province, China’s Kunming city in Yunnan, and Hong Kong, to deal with overlapping claims to the offshore area believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra also assigned Foreign Minister Surapong Towichakchaikul to look into the case.

Mr Suthep, former deputy premier who supervised national security, reasserted that it was Cambodian deputy prime minister Sok An who contacted him for unofficial meetings, before an official meeting on maritime demarcation would be officially held.

"After the unofficial talks, I reported the outcome to concerned agencies, with about 30 to 40 people being informed of the meeting results," stated Mr Suthep. "So it was not a secret."

The Democrat MP said that an official meeting however was not held due to the ongoing tensions between Thailand and Cambodia stemming from a border dispute.

"If the government will set up a committee to probe the case, I have no problem, and I challenge them to speed up the investigation and reveal the results to the public no matter who may benefit from the outcome," reaffirmed Mr Suthep.

Following allegations by the foreign minister saying Mr Suthep, former defence minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Cambodian deputy premier Sok An jointly opened an energy investment firm, Mr Suthep asserted he has never invested in any energy business with anyone, while urging those who have evidence that he formed such a company to disclose the details.

Mr Suthep said he was willing to divest the business for public benefit if it was found that he had such a business.

Foreign minister Surapong earlier said he would send a letter to Cambodia seeking more details on the allegations regarding Mr Suthep, while defending there was no hidden agenda over the Cambodian move, as Phnom Penh has affirmed that it wanted to improve relations with Thailand.

The Phnom Penh Post earlier reported a CNPA statement saying meetings between high ranking officials including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Minister Sok An, former Thai deputy prime minister Suthep and former defence minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan took place between June 2009 and July 2010 at various locations, and that Mr Suthep at the time “indicated a strong preference to resolve this issue during the mandate of the Abhisit government.”

As Mr Abhisit earlier accused deposed premier Thaksin Shinawara of having secret interests with Cambodia, the CNPA statement said it needed to reveal the truth “to protect the interests of Cambodia and H.E. Thaksin Shinawatra against baseless allegations made on the part of the Democrats.” (MCOT online news)
Read more!