This is the sixth installment in a series of posts drawn from a 24 January 2014 lecture on Judicial Ethics at the ADC-ICTY’s Twelfth Defence Symposium for interns and staff at the ICTY. The complete document is available on my website.
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E. Corruption, Impartiality and Fitness to Sit as Judge
ECCC Case 002, Ieng Sary’s Motion to Disqualify Judge Nil Nonn
In 2002, Amanda Pike, a documentary filmmaker, traveled to Cambodia and produced the documentary “Cambodia: Pol Pot’s Shadow.” While filming the documentary, Ms. Pike interviewed Judge Nil Nonn, the then President of the Provincial Court of Battambang. This interview served as a basis for her article “Battambang: The Judge.” In this article, Ms. Pike reported:
We talk with Judge Nil, who says that he’s upset by people’s lack of faith in the justice system. He laments that he often has to defend his profession to his friends. He admits that, yes, he does take bribes—of course—but only after a case is over. After all, he earns only $30 a month, not nearly enough to provide for his family. What else, he asks with that toothy grin, is he supposed to do?
Judge Nil Nonn, when interviewed in 2006 by the Cambodia Daily, denied that he had ever taken bribes from the public or participated in the interview. He stated “however, if after a trial people feel grateful to me and give me something, that’s normal I don’t refuse it. . . . I’ve settled a case for them and people feel grateful. Living conditions these days are difficult for me. But if you are talking about pressuring people for bribes—no.”
Having learned of this article, the IENG Sary Defence first took steps to obtain more information. First, the IENG Sary Defence attempted to locate Ms. Pike and obtain the video footage from her interview with Judge Nil Nonn and Judge Nil Nonn’s release form to be filmed. Ms. Pike responded that she would not release the material voluntarily on “journalistic grounds.” Similarly, the IENG Sary Defence wrote to Mr. Welsh at the Cambodia Daily who also declined to provide information. Shortly thereafter, the IENG Sary Defence filed a motion to the Trial Chamber seeking to disqualify Judge Nil Nonn on the basis of corruption and a related request to investigate the action.