The Defence Ministry yesterday refuted an allegation by Radio Free Asia that the selection of Military Court of Cambodia officials was done through nepotism and cronyism.
Ministry spokesman General Chhum Sucheat, said the MCC is an independent court which always provides justice for all soldiers.
“Recently, there were some media reports against the military court management,” he said. “They accuse the court of practicing nepotism and cronyism, which is a distortion and exaggeration of facts,” he said. “As a spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, I wish clarify to journalists and the public that Military Court of Cambodia does not practice nepotism or cronyism.”
RFA on Wednesday cited anonymous sources and accused MCC director Lieutenant General Ney Thol of practicing nepotism or cronyism in choosing court officials.
It said Lt Gen Thol’s wife Brigadier General Khim Sambath is a judge and vice president of MCC and three of his children are court officials.
The report said the eldest son Major General Phou Phirum is MCC vice president and an investigating judge; his second son Brigadier General Phou Vireak is also a MCC vice president and investigating judge; and his third son Phou Chan Kungkea is a court official.
It claimed that at least 10 court officials are either Lt Gen Thol’s family members or friends, noting that Lt Gen Thol has been MCC director since 1987.
RFA also named one of the MCC director’s cousins, Major General Nut Sophorn as an MCC vice president and an investigating judge and another cousin Nut Sophen as a court official.
In his statement, Gen Sucheat said the Ministry of Defense welcomes “constructive criticism” and would conduct an investigation if it receives a complaint about wrongdoings in the MCC.
There is currently one military court in Cambodia, based in Phnom Penh, with jurisdiction over the entire country.
The Law on Organisation and Activities of Courts says the military court only has jurisdiction over military crimes committed by military personnel. If a member of the army commits a “civilian” crime like robbery or assault, they are to be tried by civilian court.
Lieu Gen Thol did not respond to a request for comment.