International civil party lead co-lawyer Elisabeth Simonneau-Fort announced her resignation from her position at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Friday, saying that she will continue work on Case 002/01 for three more months, but will not be taking the reins as the court transitions into Case 002/02.
In her three years at the court, Simonneau-Fort was at the centre of an unprecedented experiment to introduce the concept of civil party participation – which allows for the direct involvement of victims in criminal proceedings – to international justice.
“I will finalise all the process of reparations in Case 002/01, and will continue to serve in a pro bono capacity as the Lead Co Lawyer until 31 May 2014,” Simonneau-Fort said in a statement.
She added that she would “remain at the court’s disposal” to assist in ensuring a “thorough and efficient handing-over of duties” to her replacement.
In an email yesterday, Simonneau-Fort thanked her legal team, saying the choice to resign had been “a personal decision”, and that she was “proud and happy” to have had the opportunity to carve out a place for victims in the court’s proceedings.
“It has also been an extraordinary and moving experience,” she said. “Even if it has also been an exhausting task, I feel really happy that we could plead and close the debates in case 002/01. That was quite unbelievable 3 years ago.”
Simonneau-Fort said she would be returning to domestic legal practice, but hoped to return to international law “sometime or other”.
Prosecutor William Smith yesterday praised Simonneau-Fort for helping to create “a culture of co-operation and communication” with the prosecution.
“She was determined that the civil parties receive the justice they expected,” Smith said in an email, noting her ability to unify the voices of the other civil party lawyers. “It was a difficult balancing act but she did it very well.”