A day after the United Nations held firm on its appointment of the reserve co-investigating judge rejected last week by Cambodian authorities, a lawyer expressed concern about the potential impact of the controversy on civil party applicants in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s cases 003 and 004.
Civil party lawyer Hong Kim Suon, who is representing applicants in both cases, said that controversy in the office of the co-investigating judges might delay progress in the cases.
“Of course it will affect the victims who filed complaints as civil parties,” he said.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, David Scheffer, the special expert advising on the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials, said that reserve international Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet had “clear authority to fulfill” his role as international co-investigating judge at the tribunal.
In the past, Cambodian officials have publicly indicated their opposition to prosecutions beyond Case 002. International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley said yesterday that with a couple of exceptions, “the international co-investigating judge can move both of these investigations [into cases 003 and 004] forward”.
But Anne Heindel, a legal adviser at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said that it could be difficult for Judge Kasper-Ansermet to conduct effective investigations.
“There’s legal limitations on what he can do alone, and there’s practical limitations on what he can do without the support of the Cambodian side of the office,” she said.
Court spokesman Neth Pheaktra said that 318 people have applied to be civil parties in cases 003 and 004, some of whom have been accepted as civil parties in case 002.
Government spokesman Ek Tha said this week that should Kasper-Ansermet proceed with investigations unlawfully, the ECCC would decide what action to take.