Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - More questions for KRT Case 003



More questions for KRT Case 003

More questions for KRT Case 003

Senate president Chea Sim yesterday appeared to endorse Prime Minister Hun Sen’s stated opposition to prosecutions at the Khmer Rouge tribunal beyond its second case, while the visiting United States ambassador for war crimes urged the court to resist political interference.

Chea Sim, who is also president of the Cambodian People’s Party, said that his party “supports” the court’s process “along the line of what was stated” by Hun Sen to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon during a meeting in the capital on October 27 last year.

In that meeting, Hun Sen “clearly affirmed that Case 003 will not be allowed”, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters at the time, fuelling speculation that the government was meddling in judicial decisions.

“The court will try the four senior leaders successfully and then finish with Case 002,” Hor Namhong added.

Speaking yesterday at the 60th anniversary of the CPP, Chea Sim said his party “supports the process” of the court “to try the crimes committed by the most senior leaders of the regime”.

While the court’s mandate gives it jurisdiction to try two categories of people – “senior leaders” and “those most responsible” for the atrocities of the regime – Chea Sim mentioned only the first.

Government officials have repeatedly stated that trying mid-ranking cadres, such as the three suspects in Case 004, could spark unrest and plunge the Kingdom back into civil war.

Both cases remain officially open but the court’s co-investigating judges have apparently sabotaged the Case 003 investigation, which concerns former KR navy commander Meas Mut and air force commander Sou Met. No information has been released on the Case 004 investigation.

In comments to the press yesterday during a visit to Phnom Penh, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp, said the US expected decisions at the tribunal to be based on the law and the facts of the case.

“We know that people would like to see this tribunal finished at the end of Case 002, but that is not a political decision. The decision is to be made by this court according to the statute, according to the law, according to the facts that are developed,” he said.

Clair Duffy, a trial monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative who attended the press briefing, said yesterday that Rapp’s statement “fail[ed] to recognise that previous statements of this nature have had no impact on the situation”.

“Right now, action – in the form of an independent inquiry – is what’s required here, not general statements about judicial independence,” Duffy said.

OSJI has called for an investigation into claims that Case 003 had been deliberately botched by the co-investigating judges – who did not interview suspects or investigate crime sites – amid political pressure.

Duffy said Chea Sim’s comments were “definitely suggestive” of pressure on the court.

“Why would there be need for any reference to the executive in talking about an independent judicial process, particularly knowing that the Prime Minister expressed clear opposition to Cases 003 and 004 during that 27 October meeting?” she said.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said the government respected the mandate of the court.

“But we do have a right to express ourselves as a government too, or as a political party, too,” he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting