Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Deep flaws in KRT’s Case 002/01: report

Deep flaws in KRT’s Case 002/01: report

Khmer Rouge tribunal defendant Nuon Chea sits in court on the day the Case 002/01 verdict is read in 2014. A new report has alleged deep flaws in the case and the verdict itself.
Khmer Rouge tribunal defendant Nuon Chea sits in court on the day the Case 002/01 verdict is read in 2014. A new report has alleged deep flaws in the case and the verdict itself. ECCC

Deep flaws in KRT’s Case 002/01: report

Just as parties prepare to resume the contentious appeal of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s landmark guilty verdict in its Case 002/01 later this month, a new report by three leading research organisations has painted a damning portrait of the court’s handling of the case – as well as of the verdict itself.

Detailing a litany of purported mistakes and irregularities, the report – issued by the Asian International Justice Initiative, the East-West Center and an arm of Stanford University – seeks to show “how a contentious and confusing trial process in Case 002/01 ultimately produced a similarly troubled final judgment” against remaining defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

The tribunal’s controversial decision to sever Case 002 into separate sub-trials factors heavily into the report’s critique. Though the decision was made in the hopes that at least a portion of the crimes in the sprawling indictment could be tried before the ageing defendants die, the report’s authors argue that decision ultimately caused the trial to drag on even longer.

And though the court’s Supreme Court Chamber later struck down the severance decision, it allowed a later, almost identical severance order to stand, indicating “that pragmatism may have superseded concerns of justice and fairness”.

The report also goes on to criticise the court’s use of documentary evidence – particularly records of interviews with witnesses who did not appear in court – a source of heated debate during the trial, and a decision the report says allowed reams of evidence to go unchallenged.

Though the chamber had repeatedly promised not to use such material to establish the conduct of the accused, the report’s authors found “that the Chamber did in fact rely repeatedly upon such statements”.

The judgment, the report continues, displays a seeming misunderstanding of key legal principles used to prove the defendants’ legal responsibility, and “offers a poorly organized, ill-documented, and meandering narrative in lieu of clearly structured legal writing”.

The lack of detailed reasoning leaves readers to simply assume evidence was thoroughly analysed, “although . . . the quality of the factual findings and legal conclusions leave ample basis to doubt such analysis took place”.

Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe yesterday said that the report vindicated a number of positions also espoused by the defence.

“To be honest, I’m very happy that finally an objective outsider, a very knowledgeable outsider, is sharing some of our criticisms,” he said.

The irregularities in the conduct of Case 002/01 have already, and will continue to, impact its appeal, Koppe said, adding that a recent decision by the Supreme Court Chamber not to call key witnesses – among them National Assembly President Heng Samrin – had left him considering whether to withdraw as Chea’s lawyer.

Prosecutor William Smith yesterday said that while the prosecution had had some initial concerns with the representativeness of Case 002/01, the case’s scope had not been unclear, as the new report alleges, and generally speaking, “the prosecution is of the view that the trial was fundamentally fair and fairness was not sacrificed for expeditiousness”.

“This is not a ‘rush to judgment’,” he added.

The tribunal’s legal communications officer Lars Olsen declined to comment yesterday, saying, “It is normal practice for a court not to comment on its own decisions.”

MOST VIEWED

  • LPG gas explosion injures 13 people, including foreigners, in Siem Reap

    An explosion on Wednesday at a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) car and tuk-tuk refuelling station in Siem Reap city has left 13 people, including an American and a Briton, suffering burns. The seven most severely burned, including a provincial police officer, were sent to a Thai

  • Over 100 Chinese nationals to be deported for online scam

    The Ministry of Interior is planning to deport 128 Chinese nationals after they were arrested in Preah Sihanouk province on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in an online money extortion scam. Y Sokhy, the head of the Department of Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime, told The Post

  • More than 800 people test positive for HIV in 2018

    The National Aids Authority (NAA) said more than 800 people tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) last year, joining over 76,000 others aged between 15 and 49 in the Kingdom already infected with the virus. The spread of HIV/AIDS in the Kingdom is showing few signs of

  • Rainsy vow to return on Nov 9 dismissed as ‘political warfare’

    An announcement from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) that its “acting president” Sam Rainsy would return to the Kingdom on November 9 was dismissed on Sunday as “political warfare”. The CNRP made the announcement on Friday after a permanent committee meeting chaired by