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Swiss judge quits Khmer Rouge tribunal

A second international judge has resigned from the troubled United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal in Cambodia.

This content was published on March 19, 2012 - 14:53
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Swiss reserve co-investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet cited political interference by the country’s government after he tried to investigate more suspects.

His German predecessor, Siegfried Blunk, quit for similar reasons in October.

Kasper-Ansermet, who will resign on May 4, said he had been constantly undermined by his Cambodian counterpart, You Bunleng.

“Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet considers that the present circumstances no longer allow him to properly and freely perform his duties,” the court said on Monday in a statement.

Kasper-Ansermet, who took over in November, was pursuing two unidentified suspects in the highly controversial cases known as 003 and 004, which relate to their roles in the “year zero” revolution that killed as many as 2.2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.

Critics have accused Cambodia’s government of trying to prevent further cases from being investigated. Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge soldier, in 2010 told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that more indictments were “not allowed” and has previously said he would be happy if the court packed up and left.

The hybrid UN-Cambodian court is now hearing case 002, involving the three most senior surviving Khmer Rouge members, who are accused of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Pol Pot, the architect of the “Killing Fields”, died in 1998.

Kasper-Ansermet's resignation is the latest setback for a court that has spent more than $150 million (SFr138 million) since its creation in 2005, passing just one sentence. Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, was given a 35-year jail term, commuted to 19 years, for his role in the deaths of more than 14,000 people at a torture centre.

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