Cambodian judge accused of bias will stay for Khmer Rouge hearing
Phnom Penh - A motion seeking the dismissal of a Cambodian judge by a former Khmer Rouge leader's defense team was rejected, a court spokesman said Wednesday. Media spokesman for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Reach Sambath, said the court had dismissed a protest against former Military Court chief Ney Thol by the defense team of accused "Brother Number 2" Nuon Chea.
Nuon Chea is appealing his pre-trial detention at a February 4 hearing by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the court. Nuon Chea was arrested in September and charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the 1975-79 regime.
Nuon Chea's lawyers accused Ney Thol of not being impartial and being politically biased due to alleged links with the ruling Cambodian People's Party in a motion made public Wednesday.
Dutch lawyers Victor Koppe and Michiel Pestman claimed Ney Thol's "continued presence on the bench threatens to undermine the credibility and integrity" of not just Nuon Chea's hearing, but all cases before the court.
Previously Ney Thol stepped down from preliminary hearings of another of the five former leaders currently in custody, former Toul Sleng torture center commandant Duch, saying because he had been held in the military prison since 1999, he could be seen to be too close to the case.
"I can only say that the motion was not upheld," Sambath said, but declined to comment further.
Five senior Khmer Rouge figures, including Nuon Chea, are in the custody of the joint UN-Cambodia Extraodinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Hearings regarding the crimes the four men and one woman are charged with are expected to get underway within months. Many senior cadre, including former supremo Pol Pot, are already dead. Pol Pot died at home in 1998.
Ney Thol, one of the country's most senior judges, was not available for comment Wednesday but has previously strongly denied any allegations of bias made against him.