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KRT seeks to speed up trials

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Clint Williamson, the UN special expert on the Khmer Rouge trials, speaks to reporters from The Post yesterday.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday amended its internal rules in an attempt to accelerate proceedings, sparking concern for the rights of accused, while the United Nations special envoy for the court called “speculation” about Case 003’s outcome “inappropriate”.

The court said in a statement that one amendment adopted yesterday now requires the Supreme Court Chamber rule on “immediate appeals” of Trial Chamber decisions within three months, or in “exceptional circumstances” involving one kind of appeal, within four months. If the deadline or a super-majority cannot be met, the Trial Chamber decision would be final.

Issues eligible for immediate appeal include detention and bail, measures to protect participants in court proceedings and interference with the administration of justice.

Nisha Valabhji, officer in charge of the Defence Support Section at the tribunal, said in an email yesterday that the amendment “appears to negate the Accused’s right to a decision on immediate appeal from the Trial Chamber’s orders” concerning these issues when a supermajority is not reached at the Supreme Court Chamber.

Valabhji also pointed out more generally that the court’s rules do not allow the accused to lodge immediate appeals to the Supreme Court on decisions confirming the court’s jurisdiction.

“Instead, the parties must wait until after the Trial Chamber verdict to find out whether there were legal errors affecting the basis of the trial proceedings,” she said.

Meanwhile, Clint Williamson spoke to The Post yesterday on his last trip to the Kingdom in his current capacity as the UN special expert for the Khmer Rouge trials. Williamson said he would step down next month to take a position with the United States State Department in Brussels.

When asked about the controversy surrounding the court’s investigation into its third case, which apparently did not include the examination of crime sites or interviews with suspects or witnesses, Williamson said it was “inappropriate” for “anyone to speculate on what the final outcome of this is going to be”.

He said the decision by the court’s co-investigating judges to end its investigation was “not the end”, citing a pending appeal from international co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley. “I think we need to wait and see how this all plays out, and at the end of that... it’s an open game. I think it’s important for people to scrutinize the work of the court, and, if criticism is warranted, to level it,” he said.

Williamson also addressed concerns about fund raising for the court, noting that there were “no pledges” from donor countries for 2012. He said he was “quite confident that the US contribution of US$5 million will come relatively soon”, and that that donation would carry the court through to the end of the year.

US embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said yesterday that “the 2011 contribution to the ECCC is working its way through standard appropriations processes”.

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