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Switzerland judge resigns from Cambodia genocide tribunal

A Swiss judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website; JURIST news archive] resigned [press release] on Monday over a dispute with a Cambodian ECCC judge. International Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet said that he faced ongoing resistance from National Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng concerning investigations relating to ECCC Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] cases 003 and 004 [materials] and that the dispute had created a "dysfunctional situation" at the court. Kasper-Ansermet, who will step down on May 4, is the second judge to resign from the UN-supported war crimes tribunal. He took over for Judge Siegfried Blunk who resigned [JURIST report] in October due to Cambodian political interference with the court. Also on Monday, former Khmer Rouge leader Kaing Guek Eav [ECCC materials], also known as "Duch," testified before the ECCC and agreed to cooperate with the court [AFP report] in the ongoing trials of three other senior leaders accused of crimes against humanity. Kaing is the only former Khmer Rouge leader to be convicted [JURIST report] by the ECCC for crimes against humanity and violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions [materials].

Last month, the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy website] reported that the continuing dispute between Cambodia and the UN over the appointment of Kasper-Ansermet to the ECCC threatened the legitimacy of the court [JURIST report]. A week later, Dr. Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association (IBA) [official website], reported that the legitimacy of the ECCC had been undermined [JURIST report] and that criticism of the court's failure to meet international standards was necessary to promote international justice. In January, the UN [official website] refused to replace [JURIST report] Kasper-Ansermet, who was tasked with investigating two possible suspects believed to be involved in the deaths of around 1.7 million people, after Cambodia attempted to block him. ECCC judges have been criticized for allegedly failing to conduct impartial investigations. Cambodia has argued that the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders is a Cambodian issue and should not be a matter of international concern.

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