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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Meas Muth defenders slam ‘pre-judging’ bio

Meas Muth, a former navy chief of the Khmer Rouge and war-crimes suspect, smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province last year.
Meas Muth, who faces genocide charges in the Khmer Rouge tribunal's Case 003, smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province last year. Vireak Mai

Meas Muth defenders slam ‘pre-judging’ bio

The defence team for accused Khmer Rouge leader Meas Muth slammed the public relations arm of the Khmer Rouge tribunal for publishing prejudicial information on its website, which they said could threaten his right to a fair trial.

Lawyers for Muth, who is facing genocide charges in Case 003, penned a letter to Public Affairs Section (PAS) chief Dim Sovannarom yesterday, highlighting that the court’s website contained “unproven allegations against Mr. Meas Muth, passed off as fact”.

This included listing positions – such as commander of the navy – that were not yet established as facts by the court but have been discussed during witness testimony.

The webpage was hastily altered yesterday morning to read that Muth “allegedly” held certain leadership positions during the regime. Defence lawyer Michael Karnavas, however, said such conduct was “irresponsible”.

“When you have the PAS pre-judging the suspects and accused, it lends to the perception that all of them are guilty – as they have already been judged in the court of public opinion – and therefore the burden is on the suspects and accused to prove their innocence,” he wrote in an email.

Sovannarom said as there were no legal findings on Muth’s positions, the website was immediately edited, and wrote the PAS attempts “to foster greater understanding among the public for the importance of ensuring fair trials and the presumption of innocence”.

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