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Cablegate: Chhay Hour Ii Judge Removed

VZCZCXRO9562
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #1059 2261041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141041Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8833
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 001059

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR G/TIP, EAP/MLS and EAP/RSP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL KWMN KJUS CB
SUBJECT: CHHAY HOUR II JUDGE REMOVED

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 961

B. PHNOM PENH 207

1. (U) Summary: This weekend, a Cambodian Royal Decree removed
Appeals Court President Ly Vouch Leng from her position for taking
bribes to overturn a prison sentence for managers of the Chhay Hour
II brothel. The development comes at the heels of Royal Government
of Cambodia (RGC) commitments to punish corrupt judges involved with
the Chhay Hour II case. TIP watchers may be celebrating while Khmer
Rouge Tribunal observers worry: one of the KRT co-investigating
judges is slated to take over the Appeals Court presidency. End
Summary.

CHHAY HOUR II JUDGE REMOVED
---------------------------

2. (SBU) King Norodom Sihamoni issued a Royal Decree on August 9
removing Ly Vouch Leng from her positions as president of the
Cambodian Appeals Court and member of the Supreme Council of the
Magistracy. The move follows a conversation the Ambassador had with
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng in July (Ref A), during which Sar
Kheng detailed the RGC's commitment to cracking down on the judges
who released the Chhay Hour II case perpetrators (Ref B).

3. (U) According to Cambodian National Police Deputy General
Commissioner Sok Phal, in March, the Ministry of Interior (MOI)
created a committee to launch an inter-ministerial investigation
into claims of corruption that led to overturning on appeal the
guilty verdict against two Chhay Hour II convicts. Sok Phal served
as head of the committee. He stated that the committee found
evidence that Ly Vouch Leng accepted more than USD 30,000 in bribes
from Chhun Poch, the father of Chhay Hour II perpetrator Te Pao Ly.
On August 8, police arrested Chhun Poch on bribery charges and he is
now in pretrial detention. Removed from her high-power position at
the Appeals Court, Ly Vouch Leng has been transferred to the
Ministry of Justice and will likely face criminal charges related to
corruption.

4. (U) On Aug. 12, Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke about trafficking
in persons (TIP) and the Chhay Hour II investigation during his
speech launching Cambodia's new criminal procedure code. During the
speech, Hun Sen said TIP is included in the criminal code making it
easier for courts to convict and jail human traffickers. He warned
that trials "should not be conducted like the case of Chhay Hour II"
in which the Appeals Court freed TIP criminals who were previously
convicted by another court. He also said that "Chhay Hour II is not
finished" but did not give details on this statement.

IMPACT ON KHMER ROUGE TRIBUNAL
------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Royal Decree also appointed You Bunleng, a Khmer Rouge
Tribunal (KRT) co-investigating judge, to take Ly Vouch Leng's place
as Appeals Court president and member of the Supreme Council of the
Magistracy. As of August 13, You Bunleng told reporters he had not
yet decided whether to leave his position with the KRT. According
to Center for Social Development Director Theary Seng, the recent,
important progress of the KRT may lose momentum if there is a change
in the make-up of its co-investigating judges. However, she stated
that You Bunleng has the potential to be an excellent Appeals Court
president and will be a good addition to the Supreme Council of the
Magistracy.

6. (U) Comment: The removal of Ly Vouch Leng is a strong signal of
RGC commitment to addressing the systematic flaws which allowed the
apparently covert (and clearly inappropriate) Appeals Court reversal
of the Chhay Hour II convictions, and to combat TIP. We welcome
news that the RGC used its own devices to fruitfully investigate an
important trafficking in persons and corruption case -- and to act
on it. Post will follow up on the possible ramifications for the
work of the KRT co-investigating judges. End comment.

CAMPBELL

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