The administration office of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was returned to army headquarters on December 28, following the 16-year trials of former senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

The handover ceremony came after the ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber upheld the sentencing of Khieu Samphan, former head of state of Democratic Kampuchea (DK), to life in prison on September 22.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Lieutenant General Hun Manet, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, said the event was not just the handover of a building but a testament to the complete closure of the ECCC.

“The light of justice gained from the trial process closes the darkest chapter of the Cambodian people, who were all victims of the brutal regime,” he added.

He said the tribunal gave all Cambodians, especially the younger generation, the opportunity to witness the trial process of those who were most responsible for crimes committed during the DK regime. The tribunal provided an educational reminder of tragedies that must never happen again, in Cambodia or anywhere else in the world.

Manet thanked all of the stakeholders who participated in the historic mission, including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and legal officers – as well as all leaders and administrative officials of the court from national and international organisations – who strived to fulfill their roles and responsibilities with the “utmost integrity”.

“The success of the tribunal should be considered a collective success for all, the Cambodian people, the government, the UN and the entire international community,” he said.

“It made a significant contribution to the interests of justice, and ensured the maintenance of peace, national unity and the recovery of vital psychological compensation for victims and their families.”

On January 18, 2006, the government designated part of the General Command Headquarters to house the ECCC tribunal for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror. In February 2006, the ECCC opened for the first time, and on July 3, 2006, national and international judges and prosecutors were sworn in.

ECCC spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the handover came after the tribunal had completed its legal proceedings.

“Yes, we have completed this mission, but we still have the remaining work of the court in accordance with additional agreements between the government and the UN. This work will continue for the next three years,” he said.

“On January 1, the ECCC office will relocate to the Legal Documentation Centre next to the Office of the Council of Ministers,” he added.