An October filing posted to the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s website on Wednesday could pave the way for the creation of a second panel of trial chamber judges – a measure that could allow Case 002’s next sub-trial to proceed even as the first panel deliberates its verdict in the case’s first.
Several questions had previously been raised about the feasibility of such a panel at the often cash-strapped tribunal, including in a September 18 filing from deputy director of the Office of Administration Knut Rosandhaug to the Supreme Court Chamber.
However, the October 31 filing, signed by both Rosandhaug and his national-side superior, office director Tony Kranh, made no mention of these questions, saying the office was prepared to implement any decision regarding the creation of a new panel.
“The Office of Administration has reviewed administrative and financial implications of an establishment of a second panel of judges within the Trial Chamber – and confirms its readiness to support any decision made by the Supreme Court Chamber or the Trial Chamber to duly complete the judicial process in Case 002,” the filing reads.
Rosandhaug’s September memo questioned whether the agreement that formed the court – which stipulates the number of judges – would have to be amended to allow for a second panel, and whether the current panel would face a conflict of interest hearing Case 002/02 after having decided on 002/01.
It also touched on the expense associated with a new chamber.
“The constitution of a second panel … would, of course, give rise to budgetary implications,” Rosandhaug’s memo reads. “A question that arises, therefore, is whether the relevant ECCC judicial authorities consider that these budgetary implications would be off-set by the greater speed and efficiency in moving the Case 002 judicial process forward, or not.”
Court legal communications officer Lars Olsen said yesterday that if the Supreme Court Chamber had addressed the questions in the September memo, its response “has not been made public”.
Olsen also noted that, while the 2014-2015 court budget requested by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did not contain funds for a second panel, “if there will be an additional second panel, obviously the budget will be revised accordingly”.
Long Panhavuth, a program officer with the Cambodian Justice Initiative, said yesterday that he didn’t believe the current judges would have a conflict of interest in sitting on Case 002/02, but that the court’s decision-making and financial issues should be discussed publicly.
“The donors need to say publicly whether or not they are going to [give] additional funding to the court [for a second panel], so they can manage expectations,” he said.