[JURIST] Cambodian judges in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] Friday denied corruption allegations made against them [press release] after a court in Phnom Penh agreed to hear a case [AFP report] against two of the judges alleged to have offered a portion of their salaries to the government as kickbacks in exchange for receiving their appointment to sit on the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal. The complaint was made by counsel defending Nuon Chea [JURIST news archive], a former Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] leader set to stand trial in front of the tribunal. The judges insisted the allegations were baseless because there was no need for the kickbacks:
We would like to state that all the judges of this Court entered into service by decision of the Supreme Council of Magistracy, chaired by His Majesty the King of the Cambodia, who signed Royal Decree No. NS/RKT/0506/214 dated 7 May 2006, appointing all of us to work in this Court. Therefore, there is no reason for judges to cut their salaries to pay kickbacks to government officials, as alleged. We absolutely reject such an accusation.
Claims of corruption have overshadowed the operation of the tribunal for some time. In September a New Zealand judge serving on the court warned colleagues and prosecutors [JURIST report] at a meeting of court officials that its upcoming genocide trials "are so important for the people of Cambodia [that they] must not be tainted by corruption." The court has thusfar received limited from international donors partly due to allegations of kickbacks for positions and other irregularities [Phnom Penh Post report]. Outgoing US Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli said in August that the US would not provide funding [JURIST report] until the UN-supported tribunal has resolved its corruption problem.