An international judge has resigned from the UN-backed Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal, citing political interference by Cambodia's government after he tried to investigate more suspects.
Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, the Swiss co-investigator, whose predecessor Siegfried Blunk quit for similar reasons in October, said he had been constantly undermined by his Cambodian counterpart, You Bunleng.
"The situation is completely blocked," Kasper-Ansermet told AFP.
In a statement released by the court, Kasper-Ansermet said that "You Bunleng's active opposition to investigations into cases 003 and 004 has led to a dysfunctional situation".
"Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet considers that the present circumstances no longer allow him to properly and freely perform his duties," the statement said.
The judge will stay in his role until May 4. It is unclear whether the UN has a replacement ready, but observers said any future judge would likely face similar difficulties.
"I'm surprised by the resignation but I'm not surprised at what has led to it," said tribunal monitor Clair Duffy from the Open Society Justice Initiative.
"The UN and donors have to address the heart of the problem: that the Cambodian government is trying to control who this court investigates and prosecutes."
Blunk quit the court, blaming government interference in two potential new cases, in which five mid-level Khmer Rouge members face a string of allegations including mass killings and forced labour during the regime's 1975-1979 reign of terror.
The United Nations named Kasper-Ansermet, the reserve judge, as Blunk's replacement.
But Cambodia refused to recognise the appointment, prompting an unprecedented row and forcing the Swiss to work without the support of his Cambodian counterpart You.
The court, set up to find justice for the deaths of up to two million people under the hardline communist Khmer Rouge regime, has for years been dogged by claims of political meddling.
The Cambodian government, which includes many former Khmer Rouge members, strongly opposes pursuing more suspects of the regime beyond the current second trial.
The tribunal has so far completed just one trial, sentencing former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, to life in jail on appeal last month for overseeing the deaths of some 15,000 people at a torture prison.
Hun Sen, the prime minister, himself a former Khmer Rouge soldier, in 2010 told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that more indictments were "not allowed" and had previously said he would be happy if the court packed up and left.
|< Prev||Next >|
Other articles in Asia-Pacific
Indonesian chief justice arrested for bribery 03 October 2013
US and S Korea sign nuclear deterrence pact 02 October 2013
Australian PM under fire over asylum policies 02 October 2013
Sectarian bloodshed grips Myanmar 02 October 2013
South Korea stages huge military parade 01 October 2013
Myanmar rioters attack Muslims and burn homes 01 October 2013
Myanmar warns against sectarian opportunists 01 October 2013
Australian PM skirts refugee issue in Jakarta 30 September 2013
Australia PM in Jakarta for talks on refugees 30 September 2013
Scores missing as boats sink in China typhoon 30 September 2013
|Timothy V. Gatto|