Meas Muth, former commander of the Khmer Rouge navy and a reported suspect in the tribunal’s Case 003, has formally requested legal counsel from the court, his newly appointed attorney said yesterday.
Ang Udom, who also represents Ieng Sary in Case 002, confirmed that he had accepted his appointment to represent Meas Muth, but declined to comment on the particulars of the case.
Meas Sophors, 24, Meas Muth’s son, acknowledged that his father has sought legal counsel, but said that he still trusts that government opposition to the controversial cases 003 and 004 will keep his father from court.
“To me, I still believe in the government, which said there will be no Case 003 or 004, which might include my father,” Sophors told the Post. “In the future, if my father is arrested [by the tribunal], we will have nothing to bargain. My father is ready for that; he is ready to co-operate with the court. He will not escape.”
Sophors’ optimism isn’t un-founded, according to Clair Duffy, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative. Meas Muth’s request for legal representation, she said, is not a concrete indicator that Case 003 is moving forward.
“I think really all it signifies is that a suspect is exercising his basic right to counsel of his own choosing,” said Duffy, adding that suspects in the two stalled cases should have been granted attorneys when their cases were first recommended by the prosecution, and that the suspects’ right to not incriminate themselves is damaged “by them not having been assigned counsel sooner”.
According to Duffy, a proper investigation into the case by new co-investigating judge Mark Harmon could reverse “a lot of the damage done to the credibility of the ECCC”.
Anne Heindel, a legal adviser for the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the source of many of the court’s documents, also noted that Case 003’s progress largely falls to Harmon.
“It all depends on what happens when Harmon gets here, whether he decides to validate the findings of [stymied reserve co-investigating Judge Laurent] Kasper-Ansermet and starts a dispute – a legal dispute – with the national counsel and re-opens an investigation,” she said.