The investigations into government-opposed cases 003 and 004 at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have been sabotaged, the international reserve co-investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet revealed in a note published yesterday.
The 14-page missive from the judge names names and meticulously documents the “egregious dysfunctions” of the tribunal that impede any proper investigations into the two cases Prime Minister Hun Sen has said will not be “allowed.”
“This note demonstrates the existence of such serious irregularities and dysfunctional situations so as to impede the proper pursuit of investigations in case files 003 and 004,” Kasper-Ansermet wrote.
Upon his arrival at the tribunal, the Swiss judge had committed to keep the public duly informed of the progress in the two cases that involve crimes against humanity and war crimes that affected hundreds of thousands of Cambodians.
“[The] International Reserve Co-Investigating Judge deems it his duty to inform the parties to both Cases 003 and 004 of the many dysfunctions that have affected the aforementioned judicial investigations and of the overall incapacity he and his office now face in performing their judicial obligations dutifully, diligently and effectively,” Kasper-Ansermet said.
His note articulates a series of incidents that demonstrate that the division between national staff and international staff at the tribunal has embroiled every office at the tribunal involved with case 003 and 004 investigations.
Kasper-Ansermet details his Cambodian counterpart’s refusal to support or even acknowledge his standing as an international judge and provides a litany of bitter correspondence between the two.
He further states Cambodian co-investigating judge You Bunleng has withheld the official judicial stamp, which must mark all judicial documents, from international staff in the office of the co-investigators.
Kasper-Ansermet also states that You Bunleng’s position has “no legal basis”.
The Swiss national highlights irregularities in the disqualification process of Pre-Trial Chamber Prak Kimsan who has previously acted unilaterally in refusing to consider motions put forward by Kasper-Ansermet.
The Post reported on irregularities in the process earlier this week and the tribunal has not responded to questions.
Kasper-Ansermet states that administrative staff at the court have refused to place any document filed by him on the case files for 003 or 004 and that the Witness and Expert Support Unit refused to facilitate interviews with civil party applicants for the two cases.
“WESU is affected by an existing administrative arrangement that no ECCC national (non-UNAKRT) staff may be used to implement any activities of the OCIJ when the request is made by the International Reserve Co-Investigating Judge solely,” an email from the section to Kasper-Ansermet said.
Tribunal press officer Neth Pheaktra said he would not respond to questions about Kasper-Ansermet’s note but said the “ECCC Administration usually provides services to all parties, and has at all times guaranteed the good function of the court”.
The Open Society Justice Initiative’s Clair Duffy said it is “the most dismal it has ever been for cases 003 and 004 being salvaged”.
“It just adds to the mountain of material that is already out there that evidences the government’s control over the court,” Duffy said.
“This is the government’s publicly expressed will being put into action at every level of the court by every Cambodian that has touched the files throughout the substance of the investigation.
“I can’t see at this point there being any room at all for the UN to ignore the seriousness of the situation.”
The office of the spokesperson of the secretary-general of the UN did not respond to requests for comment, nor did UN Special Expert David Scheffer, who is out of the country.