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NZ’s Hamill calls for civil party applications

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Rob Hamill attends the verdict in the trial of Kaing Guek Eav at the ECCC in July 2010.

Former Olympic rower and Khmer Rouge tribunal civil party Rob Hamill has called for KR victims around the world to apply to participate in the court’s controversial third and fourth cases, warning that the investigations may be shut down in the face of interference from the Cambodian government.

In a statement released yesterday, the New Zealander said he was “deeply concerned about overt political influence” at the court, and warned prospective civil party applicants that time is running out to join Case 003.

The court’s investigating judges announced last month that they had concluded investigation in Case 003.

The investigation remains confidential, though the case is believed to involve former KR navy commander Meas Muth and air force commander Sou Met.

The fact that the judges made no effort to solicit victim complaints and civil party applications in relation to the case, and that the suspects themselves apparently were not even questioned during the investigation, has led court observers to charge that the case has been deliberately scuttled due to opposition by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials.

Under court rules, civil party applications must be received within 15 days of the closure of investigation, a deadline that expires on Saturday.

“It should be the court’s obligation to inform victims about the deadline from the date of closing investigations,” Hamill said. “However, since it is not, this announcement hopes to raise the message for victims who want to put applications in for cases 003 and 004.”

Im Sophea, outreach coordinator at the tribunal’s Victims Support Section, said yesterday that Hamill and local activist Theary Seng had so far been the only people to apply for civil party status in Case 003.

The VSS, he added, has not solicited further applications because they have no received such instructions from the investigating judges, and because the identities of the suspects remain confidential.

“This is a decision by the co-investigating judges and we cannot do anything beyond that because it is their decision,” Im Sophea said.

“Our role is only to accept applications.”

Hamill’s brother Kerry was captured by the Khmer Rouge in 1978 while sailing with friends in the Gulf of Thailand before being taken to S-21 prison in Phnom Penh and executed.

Rob Hamill provided emotional testimony about the ordeal in 2009 during the court’s first trial, that of former S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch.

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