Appeal hearings on the dismissal of the case against Im Chaem at the Khmer Rouge tribunal concluded today, with a decision from the panel of judges expected in the second quarter of next year.
Chaem, an alleged district secretary under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, was charged with crimes against humanity including extermination and enslavement. Her case was dismissed by the co-investigating judges in February, prompting an appeal from the international co-prosecutor. His Cambodian counterpart, however, supported the dismissal.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has long publicly opposed trying Chaem - and any other defendants beyond the three already convicted - raising questions of political interference. A critical issue as to whether the case should proceed is determining if Chaem, as a district chief, can be considered “most responsible” for crimes committed by the regime and is therefore under the court's jurisdiction. She did not attend the hearing yesterday.
“According to the International Co-Prosecutor’s final submission, Im Chaem fits the criteria for inclusion within the ECCC’s [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia] personal jurisdiction… through her leadership positions at the district and sector levels in both the Southwest and Northwest Zones," an ECCC press release reads. "The National Co-Prosecutor submitted that she did not fall within the ECCC’s personal jurisdiction to face prosecution.”
Civil party lawyers, meanwhile, argued yesterday that dismissing Chaem’s case from the tribunal should not prohibit another Cambodian court from taking it up, as the current dismissal judgement claims.
“The decision [on the appeal] will be final with no further appeals and would require an affirmative vote of at least four out of the five judges," today's statement reads.