Hundreds of additional victims have been accepted as civil parties in the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s second case, just as its trial of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders commences.
In a decision that significantly expanded the court’s definition of whom it recognised as a victim in the case, the Pre-Trial Chamber ruled in favour of appeals by 1,728 civil party applicants whose claims had initially been deemed inadmissible by the court’s co-investigating judges. A total of 3,850 civil parties will now participate in Case 002.
Silke Studzinsky, a civil party lawyer, said yesterday that she “welcomed” the ruling, which accepted 76 of her clients.
“It’s a very broad and generous understanding, and of course looking to the impact that mass crimes have on communities,” she said.
In their decision, endorsed by four of the five judges with one partial dissent, the judges said the criteria used by the co-investigating judges to determine civil party admissibility was too narrow.
The co-investigating judges, who admitted 2,123 out of nearly 4,000 civil party applicants in September, had said a victim seeking civil party status must have suffered in a way that was “directly linked” to at least one “factual situation”, such as a crime site, under investigation.
The Pre-Trial Chamber said, however, that victims could be accepted even if the alleged crimes against them were not being investigated by court officials, so long as their harm was within the jurisdiction of the court and related directly to the alleged crimes of the accused. Such crimes, they emphasised, were carried out “throughout the country”.
Terith Chy, head of the the Documentation Centre of Cambodia’s victim participation project, said yesterday that the nearly two-fold increase in Case 002 civil parties would demand further resources “in order to make [victim] participation as meaningful as possible”.
Studzinsky said it was unclear if the ruling would affect civil party applicants in possible future cases, noting that “nobody knows the scope of investigation” in Case 004, while the co-investigating judges have already closed the door to prospective victims in Case 003.
Both cases are apparently being buried by the judges amid political pressure.
DESTRUCTION ACROSS THE MAP
The map below depicts a selection of the incidents and crime sites that were investigated as part of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s second case. The defendants are accused of devising a common criminal plan that was implemented at sites across Cambodia.
Case 002 defendants
- Born as Long Bunruot in Battambang province in 1926, Nuon Chea became known as Brother Number Two under the Khmer Rouge regime.
- He studied law at Bangkok’s prestigious Thammasat University, where he became a member of the Thai Communist Party.
- He is alleged to have held numerous titles under the Democratic Kampuchea Regime and to have been a member of the Military Committee of the Central Committee - an accusation he denies.
- He was arrested in September 2007 and indicted for crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, genocide, homicide, torture, and religious persecution.
- Born on 27 July, 1931, Khieu Samphan, alias Hem, received a bursary to study in France in 1955 and published his doctoral dissertation, “Cambodia’s economy and industrial development”.
- He was appointed Secretary of State for Trade in Sihanouk’s regime in 1962. Under threat from Sihanouk’s security forces, he allegedly went into hiding in 1967 and reemerged in the Khmer Rouge resistance in the early 1970s.
- In 1975, he was appointed Democratic Kampuchea’s head of state. He succeeded Pol Pot after the latter retired as the official head of the Khmer Rouge in 1997.
- After pledging allegiance to the Cambodian government in 1998, he left the Khmer Rouge and lived in the northwestern province of Pailin until being arrested in
- placed in provisional detention at the ECCC in November 2007.
- The former Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs under the Khmer Rouge regime was born on October 24, 1925, in Tra Vinh Province, which is now part of southern Vietnam. He was arrested on November 12, 2007.
- Educated in both Phnom Penh and then in Paris, he became a member of the French Communist Party in 1951. After returning to the Kingdom in 1957, he became a history professor. He allegedly joined the Khmer Rouge in 1963.
- In 1975, he became Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs. He fled to Thailand when the regime fell and was convicted of genocide and sentenced to death in absentia by the People’s Revolutionary Tribunal of Phnom Penh.
- He left the Khmer Rouge with thousands of followers in 1996 in exchange for King Norodom Sihanouk granting him a royal pardon for his 1979 conviction and amnesty from prosecution under a 1994 law outlawing the Khmer Rouge.
- Ieng Thirith, wife of Ieng Sary, was born in 1932 in Phnom Penh. She graduated from the Lycée Sisowath in the capital before studying in Paris, where she majored in Shakespeare studies at the Sorbonne.
- In 1975, she was appointed Minister of Social Affairs in Democratic Kampuchea and allegedly remained with the Khmer Rouge until Ieng Sary was granted a pardon in 1996.
- Ieng Thirith and Ieng Sary lived together in Phnom Penh until being placed in pre-trial detention by the ECCC in November 2007.
- She is alleged to be directly responsible for having planned, instigated, and aided and abetted: crimes against humanity, genocide and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.