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Cablegate: Cambodian Bar Association Says to Eccc: Show Me

VZCZCXRO9638
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0438/01 0790107
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200107Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8214
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0057
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2273
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0407
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0549
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0568
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3143
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2226

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000438

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, S/WCI; USUN FOR JDONOVAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KJUS PREL CB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIAN BAR ASSOCIATION SAYS TO ECCC: SHOW ME
THE MONEY


1. (U) On Friday, March 16, the Review Committee of the
Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)
issued a press statement announcing that they had resolved
all the remaining disagreements between the Cambodian and
international judges, although the statement noted that
additional fine tuning remains to be done. The international
judges, however, refused to agree to the scheduling of a
second plenary at the end of April, pending resolution of a
dispute with the Cambodian Bar Association (CBA) over
international defense lawyer fees. The timetable for
finalizing agreement of the internal rules and moving the
first case forward from the prosecutors to investigating
judges in May is now in jeopardy.

2. (U) The Cambodian judges on the review committee
disputed the international judges' decision, claiming that
the fee schedule matter is outside the internal rules
discussion, and should not hold up the next plenary session.
The Cambodian judges inserted a reference in the press
statement highlighting their disagreement over this point
with the international judges. The Bar Association President
Ky Tech maintains that the fees are not high and accused the
international judges of not wanting to go ahead with the
trials. Ky Tech has told the media that the international
defense lawyers will make as much as $1,000 per day; Rupert
Skilbeck (whose office will pay the salaries of defense
counsel -- both foreign and Cambodian -- says that the pay
scale is on par with a P5 Deputy Prosecutor; i.e., less than
at other tribunals and does not amount to $1,000 per day.

3. (U) The Bar Association has stipulated that any
international judge wishing to be eligible to defend a
Cambodian client before the ECCC must pay a $500 membership
application fee to the Bar; if selected, the lawyer would pay
a one-time fee of $2,000 followed by a $200 monthly fee. In
contrast, a Cambodian lawyer pays a $200 fee to be placed on
the eligibility roster, and a $30 monthly fee thereafter.
Rupert Skilbeck, the ECCC's Principal Defender, notes that
the only other international tribunal with lawyer fees to an
outside organization, the International Criminal Tribunal for
the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has significantly lower fees.
There, the annual fee is $159 to a legal defense counsel
group, with monthly fees of $40 in the pre-trial and appeal
stages, and $79 per month during the trial phase. The
international judges have tasked Skilbeck's office with
negotiating the fee schedule with the CBA.

4. (SBU) The international judges reportedly worry that an
unnecessarily high fee schedule will discourage many
international lawyers from considering work at the ECCC, and
the pool of qualified defense lawyers willing to defend
Cambodian indictees will narrow considerably. With a smaller
pool of lawyers to draw upon, the international judges are
concerned over an "inequality in arms" and defendants' right
to a fair trial may be called into question -- particularly
in the appeal stage. International judges reportedly want
CBA fees to be limited to covering actual administrative
costs; what is being asked, they say, is far in excess of
normal administrative fees. Skilbeck agrees, as his office
will do most of the administrative work normally done by a
country's bar association. Human rights NGOs reportedly are
considering a joint press statement calling for the Bar
Association to stand down on its proposal. The NGOs also are
worried that the fee schedule will impede victims' groups
from becoming civil parties, as fewer lawyers will likely be
willing to take on such cases.

5. (SBU) Comment. Despite the controversy over defense
fees, the international judges reportedly are holding the
dates from the end of April into the first week of May open
in the hopes that the issue will be resolved. We have also
heard, but cannot confirm, that the international judges may
raise the issue with UN New York if the CBA does not back
down on its proposal. Most sources have indicated that the
CBA proposal is exorbitant because the group has not been
able to receive international assistance due to previous
internal disputes over its election process. Therefore, Ky
Tech is looking to make as much as possible in the course of
the ECCC trials, so the logic goes. One of the proposed
draft rules reportedly excludes the Bar Association from
participation in ECCC matters. If this is true and once it

PHNOM PENH 00000438 002 OF 002


is made public, the Bar Association is likely to react
negatively, as Ky Tech has continued since the November 2006
plenary to carve out a significant role for the Bar on
defense issues. End Comment.
MUSSOMELI

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