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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Demand for speedy verdict an insult

Demand for speedy verdict an insult

Dear Editor,

In its December 11 edition, your newspaper published a letter authored by an individual claiming to be speaking on behalf of all Cambodians and “world citizens”.

This person is calling for the ECCC judges to render a hasty verdict against the three men currently being tried before them because the length of time spent judging these men amounts to an insult.

As a lawyer for Khieu Samphân, but also as a citizen of the world, I must say that such incongruities are mainly an insult to one’s intelligence.

Your reader seems to be totally ignorant of the judicial process and the principles it is based on.

The presumption of innocence means that even if Mr Jennar has the right to stir up hatred against the length of time allocated to these trials, he cannot expect that the ECCC judges will not spend time reviewing the evidence.

The events that are the subject of this trial began 37 years ago and ran for several years. The task assigned to the ECCC is therefore not an easy one.

The principle of individual criminal responsibility means it is not a political regime that is being tried, but three individuals who could be held responsible only for criminal acts of their own making and that will have to be proved.

A tribunal is not a tribune, and does not issue pamphlets. A real “ideal of justice” would be at the opposite end of the spectrum from the remarks spat out in Mr Jennar’s letter.

Of course, the mere existence of a trial may be viewed as an unaffordable luxury in a country as poor as Cambodia, where impunity seems to often prevail over justice.

But one must worry when a consultant of the government can take advantage of such a situation to hurl calls for lynching.

Arthur Vercken

Lawyer at the French and Cambodian bars

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