The Defence Support Section (DSS) at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has appointed Cambodian co-lawyers to represent two suspects in Case 004, the court said yesterday.
The pair appears to be the only remaining suspects in cases 003 and 004 that to this point had not been appointed lawyers by the DSS.
Openly opposed by the government, cases 003 and 004 have been in the pipeline since 2009 and have attracted controversy for the apparent reluctance of Cambodian investigating judges to pursue the cases.
According to a court statement, Cambodian lawyers Bit Seanglim and So Mosseny have been assigned to represent the two suspects, whose identities officially remain confidential but are two of three former mid-ranking Khmer Rouge cadres fingered in Case 004 whose names have long been leaked alongside the suspects in Case 003.
The suspects in Case 004 are Ta An, Ta Tith and Im Chem, while Meas Muth is the only suspect remaining in Case 003 after fellow suspect Sou Met died in June.
Long Panhavuth, program officer at the Cambodia Justice Initiative, said the appointment of the lawyers was “significant” but called on the court to release more information about the case, including the status of the investigation, the suspects’ identities and whether they have been charged.
“The public has the right to know where the cases are now. There are zero outreach programs for victim participation in [these cases],” he said.
Panhavuth added that if the appointed lawyers were subsequently recognised by the co-investigating judges it was important that they and the suspects be given access to the case file in order to ensure an “equality of arms”.
A lack of access to the case file for defence lawyers and the suspects in cases 003 and 004 has been identified as a major issue as the investigations have proceeded.
Court spokesman Lars Olsen confirmed yesterday that four suspects in cases 003 and 004 had been appointed lawyers. Sou Met never had a lawyer, according to Panhavuth, which means that all remaining suspects in the cases have now been appointed lawyers by the DSS.