It would appear that the author of the article “Case 003, 004 victims told how to apply as civil parties” published on June 4, 2013, has misinterpreted a simple expression of respect for the presumption of innocence during judicial investigations in our new information leaflet for Civil Party Applicants.
After having quoted a third party’s suggestion that the future of cases 003 and 004 before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) “remained far from certain”, the reporter appears to substantiate this claim by referring to a phrase from our information leaflet: “Indeed, the new leaflet discusses trials for cases 003 and 004 in conditional terms: If a case goes to trial, all Civil Parties will form one consolidated group.”
On the contrary, the terms “if a case goes to trial” simply recognise the legal reality of judicial investigations. Indeed, any defendant before the ECCC has the right to be presumed innocent at all stages of the proceedings, unless he or she has been found guilty through a final judgment.
The fact that a judicial investigation has been opened against a person does not imply that this person is guilty of having committed crimes. It is only after the conclusion of the impartial judicial investigation, seeking both inculpatory and exonerating evidence, that the Co-Investigating Judges will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to indict suspects and send them for trial for crimes within the jurisdiction of the ECCC, or dismiss the case.
If there would be an automatic expectation that a case would go trial once a judicial investigation has commenced, the defendant would in fact be presumed guilty until proven innocent. This is certainly not the case in the proceedings before the ECCC or before the Cambodian Courts.
For the record, the ECCC has used the conditional term “If a case goes to trial” in public information and outreach material prepared for all four cases before the court.
Legal Communications Officer,
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The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.