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Cambodian prosecutor says additional investigations could jeopardize country's stability

Cambodian prosecutor says additional investigations could jeopardize country's stability

Chea Leang, the Cambodian Co-Prosecutor at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, has filed her response to a request for more investigations at the court by her foreign counterpart.

According to a statement from the ECCC, "the National Co-Prosecutor believes that these (new) investigations should not proceed on account of (1) Cambodia's past instability and the continued need for national reconciliation, (2) the spirit of the agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Cambodia ("Agreement") and the spirit of the law that established this court ("ECCC Law"), and (3) the limited duration and budget of this court."

International Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit filed a "Statement of Disagreement" in early December, saying he and Leang were unable to agree on whether to pursue additional suspects. It has been rumored that six defendants may be added to the five already in custody.

Petit has proposed filing two new Introductory Submissions and one Supplementary Submission because he has reason to believe "(1) the crimes described in those submissions were committed, (2) these crimes are within the jurisdiction of the court, and (3) they should be investigated by the Co-Investigating Judges," according to the court's statement.

"He does not believe that such prosecutions would endanger Cambodia's peace and stability," the statement reads.

But Leang thinks the court "should prioritize the five suspects already detained, especially when, according to her, the Agreement and the ECCC Law envisioned only a small number of trials."

Court monitors contend that pursuing additional investigations would confirm the tribunal's judicial independence in the eyes of the international community. Prime Minister Hun Sen has long claimed that only a very small group of senior leaders will be brought to trial.

The Co-Prosecutors are awaiting a decision from the Pre-Trial Chamber. Its deliberations are not open to the public.

In other news, elderly defendant Ieng Sary was hospitalized twice last week.

* Pictured: Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang.

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