A judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal welcomed public scrutiny of proceedings related to the court’s controversial third and fourth cases yesterday, as judges and legal officers convened a three-day meeting to discuss amendments to its internal rules.
Judge Silvia Cartwright, of the court’s Trial Chamber, yesterday commented on the “ongoing public scrutiny” of the court, and in particular its investigations in cases 003 and 004.
Cartwright said judges at the court have a “vital role” to play in restoring trust in the courts that had been destroyed by the Khmer Rouge regime.
“We hope to succeed in delivering some measure of justice for the people of Cambodia. This takes courage and determination, but most of all, the application of the principles that underlie our independence – that the judges will fully examine all evidence and legal submissions and will make decisions that are unaffected by outside influences or by personal bias,” Cartwright said.
“The fact that the world watches all facets of these trials and will judge us individually and collectively, by the outcome, is a matter for each one of us also to consider,” she said.
The court has come under fire in recent months because of its handling of cases 003 and 004 amid public opposition to the cases from the government.
The court’s co-investigating judges announced in April that their investigation into Case 003 was finished, only two months after stating that the investigation had been limited primarily to documents from Cases 001 and 002. International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley has called for further investigation, including interviews with suspects and witnesses and the examination of alleged crime sites.
International staff at the office of the co-investigating judges began resigning in protest in the wake of the controversy, but United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office rejected “media speculation” that Case 003 was set for a pre-planned dismissal.
Anne Heindel, a legal advisor at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said yesterday that Cartwright’s comments were a welcome shift from previous court statements. “It’s significant that she highlighted the importance of public discussion of Case 003 and Case 004 and said that was beneficial to the process,” she said.
Judge Kong Srim said yesterday that the purpose of the three-day meeting was to agree to “certain amendments... relating to the further streamlining of proceedings”.
One such amendment would allow for “an efficient procedure in immediate appeals before the Supreme Court Chamber”, he said, but did not elaborate. The court has amended internal rule 108, which relates to appeals before the Supreme Court Chamber, three times already.
Just before the opening of yesterday’s session, the Pre-Trial Chamber’s newest judge, Chung Chang-ho, of South Korea, was sworn in.