Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Im Chaem defence slams prosecution’s summation

Im Chaem defence slams prosecution’s summation

Im Chaem, an alleged district secretary under the Khmer Rouge and a suspect in the ECCC’s Case 004, is photographed at her residence in Oddar Meanchey in 2014.
Im Chaem, an alleged district secretary under the Khmer Rouge and a suspect in the ECCC’s Case 004, is photographed at her residence in Oddar Meanchey in 2014. Charlotte Pert

Im Chaem defence slams prosecution’s summation

The defence team for alleged Khmer Rouge district secretary Im Chaem claims her personal safety has been put in jeopardy by a recent statement from the prosecution, which they also accuse of violating her fair-trial rights.

Chaem was charged by the Khmer Rouge tribunal in absentia in 2015 of crimes against humanity including murder, extermination and enslavement; her case was severed into Case 004/01 last year.

The statement, made public on February 3 but dated December 29, stems from a summary penned by international prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian, who argued Chaem should be prosecuted for alleged crimes against humanity, despite objections from his national counterpart Chea Leang.

Chaem’s lawyers said that Koumjian’s summary “provides an unhelpful record for the public, disregards Ms. Im Chaem’s fair trial right to be presumed innocent, and imperils her personal security”.

“The International Co-Prosecutor’s remarks negatively portray Ms. Im Chaem . . . at a critical stage of the proceedings, thereby encouraging unwarranted public condemnation,” the letter read.

They suggested “that the threats to Ms. Im Chaem’s personal security are real and further undermined” by Koumjian’s summary, and further, that it exposed confidential aspects of the investigation into the crimes of which she is accused.

Chaem’s lawyers, Bit Seanglim and Wayne Jordash, who asked investigating judges to redact the statement and to rectify misleading information, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Koumjian also did not respond as of press time, but in a response to the defence’s filing made public the same day, he said Chaem’s request should be denied and was based on “a misinterpretation” and “selective” legal reasoning.

“Im Chaem’s current strained interpretation of ECCC [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia] procedure would lead to absurd results,” he wrote, stressing his summary does not contain any confidential information and does not breach the presumption of innocence.

“Im Chaem has provided numerous publicly available interviews to DC-Cam und other outlets in which she makes various admissions regarding her involvement and role in the Khmer Rouge. Im Chaem’s repetition of unsupported claims regarding risks to her personal security are similarly irrelevant.”

Tribunal observer Long Panhavuth agreed yesterday, saying the defence had “no grounds” to claim Chaem was put at risk. “I think the public needs to know, and I think it is not affecting [Chaem’s] safety and security,” he said. “The right to a fair trial for the suspect has been always guaranteed.”

Court spokesperson Hayat Abu-Saleh said the summary had not been redacted and that a closing order – which would either indict Chaem or dismiss the charges – was expected by the end of March.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen’s China visit ‘a good opportunity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Beijing on Sunday to discuss economic and trade issues presents a good opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen Chinese ties and counter punitive measures by the West, an analyst says. The prime minister’s four-day official visit to

  • Former chief bodyguard receives royal pardon

    The former chief bodyguard of late Senate president Chea Sim has received a royal pardon nearly eight years after he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars on several charges, according to a royal decree dated November 12, last year, and obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

  • Close to the edge: Hair raising pictures from Kulen Mountain

    A new hair raising attraction on Kulen Mountain has finally opened to the public, with people flocking to the protruding cliff edge overlooking green mountainous forests to take photographs. The giant overhanging rock is situated in an area known as Mahendraparvata – an ancient city of

  • US warned not to interfere despite successful meeting

    A senior Ministry of National Defence official said the Tuesday meeting between the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia Joseph H Felter and General Neang Phat had helped strengthen relations between the two countries’ militaries. However, a senior Cambodian People’