The Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on Thursday ruled that it did not have enough votes to bring Case 004/02 against Ao An to a trial. The decision came after a three-day pre-trial hearing held in June.

“The pre-trial chamber declares that it has not assembled an affirmative vote of at least four judges for a decision based on common reasoning on the merits,” the ECCC said.

In 2016, the international co-investigating judge charged An with genocide and crimes against humanity.

He was also charged with premeditated homicide committed from around late 1976 until at least January 1979 under the previous Criminal Code while he served as Deputy Secretary of the Central Zone, a member of the Central Zone Committee and Secretary of Sector 41 in the Central Zone of the Khmer Rouge regime.

An went to trial in August 2018, with the national co-investigative judge dismissing all charges against him.

On Thursday, the national co-investigating judge argued that An was not senior enough of a Khmer Rouge official to fall under the scope of the court.

“The national co-investigating judge found that Ao An did not fall within the personal jurisdiction of the ECCC as either senior leader or one of those most responsible, in light of his role and participation in criminal acts and the Communist Party of Kampuchea [CPK], the general characteristics of the Democratic Kampuchea [DK] regime and its policies, and the genuine intent of the negotiators of the Agreement to establish the ECCC,” said the closing order for dismissal.

The national co-investigating judge also found that An controlled administrative work and general management in Sector 41, but there was no evidence confirming that he was responsible for any military, security or economic tasks at the Zone level or that he participated in making CPK policies.

The closing order dismissal said the national co-investigating judge found that An’s participation in the Khmer Rouge was “non-autonomous, inactive, non-creative and indirect in comparison to Duch’s direct and highly active role in the commission of crimes”.

In July 2010, Tuol Sleng prison director Duch was the first senior Khmer Rouge figure found guilty by the ECCC for crimes committed under the regime.

“While legal justice can be fulfilled, ‘history’ proves to be a subject that can never be about the past. Cambodia is benefiting so much from the ECCC,” said Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam).