International Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit emphatically told journalists today that his decision to leave the ECCC is "entirely related to personal family matters." And, he continued, "totally unrelated to my professional responsibilities at this court."
He said his decision to leave was made after months of reflection and "has everything to do with issues from Canada" (his home country).Â
While Petit admitted that not everyone will find this explanation satisfactory, he said he did not feel comfortable discussing his personal life in the public sphere. He told reporters assembled for a press conference that he did not believe his departure would affect the court's work, including his disagreement with Co-Prosecutor Chea Leang over pursuing additional suspects.
This did not appear to dispel the concerns of journalists and other court monitors, who wondered why Petit would depart mid-trial -- and at a time when the prosecution has been struggling in the courtroom.
Heather Ryan, court monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, responded to the news with the following statement: "It is disturbing to hear that the international co-prosecutor is leaving in the midst of the initial trial of the [tribunal], at a time when it is critical for the office to establish its leadership role in the trial and the court."Â
Whatever Petit's reasons for resigning, his timing couldn't be worse. Â