[JURIST] The credibility of the Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] trials in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] are at risk from political corruption and interference, according to a report [text, DOC; press release] by the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy website] released Thursday, just days ahead of the high-profile trial [JURIST report] of Khmer Rouge leader Kaing Guek Eav, better known as "Duch," set to begin February 17. The report calls for the Cambodian government and others to address "grave flaws" in the tribunal, suggesting that the government may be blocking further indictments of former senior members of Khmer Rouge. The ECCC plans to try as many as eight suspects [JURIST report] for their roles in the regime but is urged by the report to "show it is relying on law and facts, not politics, in deciding how many suspects will be investigated." The Duch case is the first to reach the trial stage.
UN and Cambodian officials called for anti-corruption measures [JURIST report] in December after allegations were made of kickbacks for judicial appointments. ECCC judges denied [JURIST report] the corruption allegations in January, stating that they had no reason to pay kickbacks to government officials. A New Zealand judge serving on the ECCC insisted [JURIST report] in an August address to colleagues that the genocide trials "are so important for the people of Cambodia [that they] must not be tainted by corruption." The Khmer Rouge regime is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] between 1975 and 1979.