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Khmer Rouge tribunal gets funds, case deadline extension

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A packed public gallery during the closing statement hearing in Case 002/02 in June. ECCC

Khmer Rouge tribunal gets funds, case deadline extension

Funds continue to flow for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, and the case against alleged former Khmer Rouge naval chief Meas Muth is moving forward even as the ultimate fate of the case still hangs in the balance, according to announcements made yesterday.

The prosecution and defence team for Muth were yesterday given a three-month deadline to file their final submissions but whether Case 003 against Muth, along with cases 004 against Yim Tith and 004/02 against Ao An, will actually go ahead remains unclear.

Co-investigating judges proposed halting those cases in May for the “sole reason” of “lack of funding”, a claim which several observers said likely masked more nefarious reasons in a court that has long been plagued by allegations of government interference.

Muth’s defence lawyer, Michael Karnavas said in email yesterday that the deadline on submissions was part of the expected procedures and showed there was no political pressure at play.

“The proper procedure is being followed contrary to all the naysayers about the [co-investigating judges] having succumbed to political interference by the Cambodian government, or that it has abandoned the victims and civil parties,” he said in an email.

Former Khmer Rouge navy chief and war-crimes suspect, Meas Muth smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province in 2015.
Former Khmer Rouge navy chief and war-crimes suspect, Meas Muth smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province in 2015. Vireak Mai

“There is a process in place. It may be taxing, confusing and uncharacteristically slow, but if not followed then there is a breakdown in the rule of law,” he said.

“How the case will end up remains to be seen. And that is how it should be. Otherwise, the decisions that have yet to come would be result-determinative and abhorrently preordained.”

Court spokesperson Hayat Abu-Saleh said no date had yet been set for a decision on whether Muth’s case would progress.

A decision was initially expected on June 30. Meanwhile, at the launch of a Khmer Rouge History app yesterday, European Union Ambassador George Edgar said the EU remained committed to supporting the Khmer Rouge tribunal to ensure there would be no “repetition of the horrors” of the regime and that the suffering of victims was recognised.

The EU recently pledged €10 million (about $11.7 million) to the tribunal from now until 2019, Edgar said. The tribunal has cost almost $300 million since it started operations a decade ago – with Japan, the United States and Australia the biggest donors.

This year, voluntary contributions are projected to reach almost $12.5 million, with up to $11 million in additional funds – an “exceptional” measure from the UN General Assembly – to supplement the donor funding.

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