Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet.
Suspects in government-opposed Case 003, former navy commander Meas Muth and air force commander Sou Met, are among those most responsible for the crimes committed during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, the office of the co-investigating judges decided on Tuesday.
The decisions were stamped by international reserve Co-Investigating Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet alone, without the seal of his Cambodian counterpart.
The decisions also symbolize the final judicial acts of Kasper-Ansermet, who steps down from his office tomorrow.
He quit the court in March citing egregious dysfunctions within the ECCC.
“The judicial investigation conducted by the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges has thus established that Suspect [Redacted] may be considered as one of the persons most responsible for the crimes enumerated in the Co-Prosecutors’ Second Introductory Submission,” Kasper-Ansermet wrote in his decision.
In the two decisions Kasper-Ansermet determines that his investigations in Case 003 indicate that Meas Muth and Sou Met, both high-ranking commanders in the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea, are two of those most responsible for Khmer Rouge atrocities.
“This does not establish that the Suspect is guilty, nor is it a finding of the commission of the crimes alleged in the Second Introductory Submission, which are matters left to the jurisdiction of the Trial Chamber and have yet to be established,” he wrote.
The decision bears only the stamp of Kasper-Ansermet.
The Swiss national has attempted to register two disagreements between himself and his Cambodian counterpart, You Bunleng, over cases 003 and 004, which Prime Minister Hun Sen has previously said will not be “allowed”.
The decisions are the first coming from the Office of the Co-Investigating Judge that confirm long-speculated and leaked details about the two suspects.
However, the names of the two suspects are remain redacted.
In his decision, Kasper-Ansermet describes the responsibilities of the two accused.
Meas Muth is described as having control of the seaside city of Sihanoukville and the Wat Eng Tea Nhien Security Centre and Stung Hav Rock Quarry forced-labour site there.
Investigators have also found Meas Muth exercised full authority over sending people to S-21, where they were ultimately tortured and killed, this included Thai and Vietnamese fisherman off the coast of Cambodia.
New Zealand Olympic rower Rob Hamill is a civil party in Case 003 for the harm he suffered from his brother being captured by Meas Muth’s forces off the coast of Cambodian in 1978.
Hamill’s brother’s photograph was later found amongst the meticulous S-21 documentation of prisoners.
Meas Muth was also found by investigators to have likely commanded troops to attack Vietnamese territory in 1977 and 1978, resulting in indiscriminate atrocities against the Vietnamese.
Air force commander Sou Met, like Meas Muth, was directly involved in the selection, arrest and transfer of people to S-21, the decision states.
Sou Met also reigned over detention centre S-22, where prisoners were given only one meal a day, forced to perform hard labour, tortured under interrogation, and died from starvation and disease.
As Air Force commander, Sou Met oversaw the construction of the Kampong Chhnang airport – a forced-labour project in which workers died of overwork and exhaustion and committed suicide on a weekly basis, Kasper-Ansermet wrote in his decision.
The two public decisions will be widely welcomed by the hundreds of civil party applicants in cases 003 and 004.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]