Reserve international Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet’s investigation into government-opposed Case 004 will continue after the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber judges yesterday failed to agree on key issues that could have stopped it in its tracks.
The controversial case, which Prime Minister Hun Sen has said “will not be allowed”, involves the alleged crimes of three former Khmer Rouge cadre, including one current commune chief in Oddar Meanchey’s Anglong Veng district, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold.
Case 004 investigations cover a range of crime sites including former security centres and execution sites in Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Takeo provinces.
The three suspects are allegedly being investigated for their responsibility in the deaths of tens of thousands of individuals through executions, starvation, disease and genocidal massacres.
The UN-nominated Kasper-Ansermet has been at loggerheads with his Cambodian counterpart since he assumed office upon his predecessor’s resignation.
Cambodian Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng has refused to recognise Kasper-Ansermet as his legitimate counterpart until the government’s Supreme Council of the Magistracy “approves” him, and has stonewalled all attempts by Kasper-Ansermet to perform judicial duties.
Kasper-Ansermet took two proposals to You Bunleng in December. One was to resume investigations in Case 003, which was closed by his predecessor and You Bunleng. The second was to continue investigations in Case 004.
The two international judges in the Chamber, Rowan Downing and Chang-Ho Chung, fully accept Laurent Kasper-Ansermet’s power to act, while the three Cambodian judges in the Chamber, like You Bunleng, refuse to acknowledge his authority.