Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Expert traces KRT’s history

Expert traces KRT’s history

Expert traces KRT’s history

A noted Khmer Rouge historian, who resigned from the Khmer Rouge tribunal to protest against an alleged failure to fully investigate the court’s third case, released a paper yesterday reviewing the negotiations that established the court’s jurisdiction for who could be tried – what one observer called the tribunal’s “signature issue”.

Steve Heder, a lecturer in Southeast Asian Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, worked in the office of the co-investigating judges at the tribunal from 2006 until May.

Heder wrote that the history of negotiations leading to the tribunal’s jurisdiction “is of the greatest interest and pertinence to the current deliberations of the [tribunal’s] judicial bodies, including resolution of the ongoing controversy concerning widened investigations at the Court”, and suggested the court draw on that history in its work.

Debate over who falls into the categories of “senior leaders” of the Khmer Rouge and those “most responsible” for crimes carried out by the regime has taken centre stage at the tribunal as additional cases opposed by the Cambodian government appear set for dismissal. Heder traces the history of that debate from the fall of the Khmer Rouge to the defections of the 1990s through to the end of negotiations between the United Nations and the government in 2003.

Anne Heindel, a legal advisor at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said yesterday that Heder’s paper showed that the UN and the government had come to an understanding on “senior leaders” who might be prosecuted, but “could never reach agreement, outside of Duch, as to who would be most responsible”.

Nevertheless, Heder found that “despite some inconsistency, neither Hun Sen nor other authoritative [government] officials had definitively ruled out the possibility that middle-echelon [Khmer Rouge] cadre could be prosecuted, as long as early defectors like Hun Sen himself, Chea Sim and Heng Samrin were excluded”.

But uncertainty as to the government’s commitment to refrain from interfering in the court’s proceedings remained.

Heindel said the court was designed “fully expecting” political interference, but the history demonstrates that it still needs “vocal support from the UN to counteract any other type of interference that’s going on”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release