Parties tackle Im Chaem dismissal

Accused war criminal Im Chaem sits at a house in Oddar Meanchey’s Anlong Veng district in 2014.
Accused war criminal Im Chaem sits at a house in Oddar Meanchey’s Anlong Veng district in 2014.

Parties tackle Im Chaem dismissal

Lawyers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal presented arguments yesterday on whether to proceed with a trial against former regime district leader Im Chaem in a closed door appeal hearing.

Charges against Chaem were dismissed in February, with defence teams arguing that her position was not high enough for her to be considered one of those most responsible for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. The decision was appealed by International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian.

The government has controversially opposed all future cases, including Chaem’s, with Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly claiming that hearing any cases beyond the two already heard could cause civil war. Amid the government pressure, the co-prosecutors’ office has been split along national lines, with Koumjian pushing to go forward with the trial and his Cambodian counterpart Chea Leang moving to dismiss charges.

Civil party lawyer Lyma Nguyen confirmed that her team made submissions yesterday, explaining that they focused on challenging the dismissal decision’s claim that dismissing the case also clears Chaem of any responsibility in a lower Cambodian court.

“We believe that these findings were erroneous and further, extraneous to the Co-Investigating Judges’ core task of determining whether Im Chaem falls within the personal jurisdiction of the ECCC,” she said via email.

Nguyen went on to say that the judges’ decision may “usurp the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia to determine its own jurisdiction over any future domestic prosecutions of Khmer-Rouge era crimes and effectively amount to a declaration of an unlawful blanket immunity for very serious crimes”.

The international and national defence counsels will be given a total of four hours to respond today.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha

    Hun Sen has promised to step down as prime minister while opposition figure Sam Rainsy pledges to turn himself in as forfeits if the long-term political rivals lose a “bet” over the future of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is on bail awaiting trial

  • UAE prince seeks to invest in Cambodia

    The UAE has expressed interest in Cambodian oil and gas exploration. Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said this was the result of his discussions with Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmook bin Juma al-Maktoum, a member of the royal family who visited him on Wednesday.

  • Smith calls for ‘release’ of Sokha as visit ends

    At a press conference to conclude her 11-day visit to Cambodia, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith on Thursday called for treason charges against former opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped and for him to be released from “restricted detention”.

  • PM denies ‘nepotism’ claims

    Prime minister Hun Sen denied on Thursday that nepotism was involved in the recent promotions of the children of senior government officials. He said they had been “trained” and were entirely capable of carrying out their duties while being open to “punishment” like anyone else.