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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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UN's Legal Chief Dodges Questions of Cambodia and King, After An Hour on Lebanon

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- Questions about the UN's role in the Cambodian war crimes tribunal go unanswered, even by the UN's top legal official Nicolas Michel. In light of the controversy surrounding the UN having declined retired King Norodom Sihanouk's September 8 offer to meet and provide some testimony, Inner City Press on Wednesday asked Mr. Michel if it is the UN's position that he could be called to formally testify, and would have to obey such an order. Mr. Michel said, "that is an extremely sensitive topic" that "has created a number of difficult discussions. If I answer, the King would see it in an offensive way."

Cambodia "killing fields" memorial, UN not shown

            Perhaps caution and non-response is to be expected from lawyers. But Mr. Michel had just finished answering an hour of questions about the Lebanon tribunal being established in the Netherlands, questions about jurisdiction and timing, even as earlier in the day another member of Parliament was killed by a bomb in Beirut. The Lebanon tribunal, too, must be deemed an "extremely sensitive topic." What then explains the total non-response on Cambodia, other than the UN's sense of priorities?

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  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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