Cambodia : Two new suspects charged before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

05/03/2015
Communiqué

The charges brought against two former Khmer Rouge cadres are a welcome development but serious concerns remain over attempts at political interference and lack of transparency in the court proceedings, FIDH and its member organisation in Cambodia, the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) said today. On 3 March 2015, the international Co-Investigating Judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) charged two new suspects with crimes against humanity in ongoing Cases 003 and 004.

"This new development sends an encouraging signal to the almost 2000 victims who applied to participate as Civil Parties in Cases 003 and 004 and have been waiting for justice for more than 40 years. We hope this will trigger more transparency in the progress of these cases, but remain concerned by attempts at political interference by Cambodian authorities" , declared our organisations.

Our organisations hope that this step forward taken by the international Co-Investigating Judge will expedite the much-delayed legal process in these Cases. The Court should also ensure that the two suspects, who are not under an arrest warrant, will cooperate with the Chambers and appear before the Court when needed.

In Case 003, the ECCC International Co-Investigating Judge charged Meas Muth, former commander of the Khmer Rouge navy, in absentia with the crimes of homicide, crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, persecution on political and ethnic grounds, and other inhumane acts) and war crimes (unlawful confinement of civilians, wilful deprivation of a prisoner of war or civilian’s rights to fair and regular trials, wilful killing, unlawful deportation or transfer, wilful causing of great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and torture). These crimes were allegedly committed in various security centres, against Vietnamese, Thai and other foreigners at sea, and on the islands over which Democratic Kampuchea claimed sovereignty.

In Case 004, the ECCC International Co-Investigating Judge charged Im Chaem, former district commander during the Khmer Rouge regime, in abstentia with homicide and crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds, and other inhumane acts). These crimes were allegedly committed at the Phnom Trayoung security centre and the Spean Sreng worksite.

Background

Four cases have been brought before the ECCC, a hybrid UN-backed tribunal established to judge former high ranking officials from the Khmer Rouge regime.
In Case 001, Kaing Guek Eav, known as “Duch”, was sentenced in appeal in February 2012 to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the S-21 detention and torture centre he was heading at Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Case 002 was initially targeting four former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, but now only two of them, Nuon Chea, ideologist of the Khmer Rouge regime and Pol Pot’s right hand man, and Khieu Samphan, forme Head of State of Democratic Kampuchea, are being prosecuted. Ieng Sary has died and Ieng Thirith was declared unfit to stand trial. After a severance order, Case 002 was divided into diffent trials. After a trial in Case 002/01, the ECCC Trial Chamber, in August 2014, found Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea guilty of crimes against humanity related to forced movements of population and the execution of former Khmer Republic soldiers and officials and sentenced them to life imprisonment. This decision is under appeal. The trial in Case 002/02, targeting the two same accused, is currently ongoing and concerns the alleged crimes of genocide, forced marriages and rape, treatment of Buddhists, internal purges, targeting of former Khmer Republic officials, as well as 4 security centers, 3 worksites and 1 cooperative.
Cases 003 and 004 have been brought by the international Co-Prosecutor late 2009 and are being investigated by the Co-Investigating Judges since then. Case 003 is said to be targeting two suspects, among them former Khmer Rouge navy commander Meas Muth, and Case 004 four suspects, among them former Khmer Rouge district commander Im Chaem.

Since 2008, FIDH, through lawyers who belong to its Litigation Action Group (LAG), has been representing 10 victims living in France participating as Civil Parties in proceedings in Case 002 before the ECCC. FIDH was also involved in discussions on the establishment of the ECCC in the early 2000s. FIDH, together with its member organisations in Cambodia, ADHOC and LICADHO, has organised various missions and seminars in Cambodia on the ECCC and has published several reports and position papers, focusing on the role of victims in ECCC proceedings, their rights to participation, legal representation and reparation. A 30-minute documentary entitled “Case no. 002 – History of a Verdict”was made by FIDH and issued in October 2014.

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