Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Breaking: KRT tosses case against Im Chaem

Breaking: KRT tosses case against Im Chaem

Im Chaem, an alleged district secretary under the Khmer Rouge, is photographed at her residence in Oddar Meanchey in 2014.
Im Chaem, an alleged district secretary under the Khmer Rouge, is photographed at her residence in Oddar Meanchey in 2014. Charlotte Pert

Breaking: KRT tosses case against Im Chaem

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has thrown out one of its most contentious cases, that against former district leader Im Chaem.

The dismissal was issued early on Wednesday with the co-investigating judges finding “she was neither a senior leader nor otherwise one of the most responsible officials of the Khmer Rouge regime”, and therefore falls outside the jurisdiction of the hybrid tribunal.

“The dismissal also means that all civil party applications [by victims of the crimes committed by the regime] related to Im Chaem had to be rejected,” a statement from the court reads.

Chaem was allegedly secretary of Preah Netr Preah district in the North-West Zone under the Khmer Rouge regime and was charged in March 2015 with crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment and persecution on political grounds.

Her case, known as Case 004/01, has been dogged by political interference and divided Cambodian and international prosecutors as to whether it should proceed.

The government has long made known its position that the tribunal should conclude with current Case 002 against the Khmer Rouge’s most senior surviving leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

Prime Minister Hun Sen himself has previously said if Case 004 – which also includes cadres Ao An and Yim Tith – and Case 003 – against alleged naval commander Meas Muth – went to trial, civil war could ensue, prompting experts to question whether the cases would fold under government pressure.

Citing logistical and budgetary constraints, a document listing the full reason for the dismissal will be filed “in due course”.

While a summary will be made public, “the reasons for this decision, as far as they relate to the substance of the charges themselves, and the decision on the civil party applications shall remain confidential unless the dismissal is overturned on appeal and a trial ordered by the Pre-Trial Chamber”.

Chaem’s lawyers, Wayne Jordash and Bit Seanglim, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

International prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian previously argued Chaem was “criminally responsible in that she was the superior of perpetrators, knew about the crimes and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the crimes or punish those responsible”.

Reached this morning, Koumjian said he would withhold judgment on the decision until reading the legal reasons.

“I look forward to reading the recent decision and I will not comment further at the moment,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the