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'Observers' not observing KRT closely enough

'Observers' not observing KRT closely enough

Dear Editor,

Your story "KR trial raises questions" (January 30) itself raises a few questions. It repeatedly asserts that "observers"  are critical of or worried about several aspects of the ECCC, but it quotes only four individuals by name, no observation is attributed to more than one of them and, in some cases, it is impossible to determine which of the four, if any, is the source of an observation.

For example, the quotation from Youk Chhang corresponds to the opening paragraph's statement that the trial of Duch "could raise more questions than it answers" - but that statement is attributed to "observers", and Youk Chhang is not a plural. The other three people quoted on separate points are also each cited, individually, as plural "observers".

Beth Van Schaack (who, by the way, is the co-editor, not the author, of Bringing the Khmer Rouge to Justice) is the "observers" who is/are "anxious" that Duch may "name names" before the Pre-Trial Chamber has ruled on the disagreement between the co-prosecutors over whether to open a new investigation. Why such an occurrence would create a "legitimacy crisis of the ECCC", as Van Schaack calls it, is another question.

The matter now before the Pre-Trial Chamber is whether or not to open an investigation of specific individuals in regard to specific events.

Whatever the decision, it would neither require nor prevent the opening of a new case if that seemed warranted by evidence presented in Duch's trial.

David Cohen, director of the Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center, is the "observers" who "agree that the court should at least explore the possibility of further prosecutions". Perhaps the rumblings noted by Van Schaack are so loud in California that they drown out the reports of what is happening in the ECCC. Isn't exploring the possibility of further prosecutions precisely what the Pre-Trial Chamber is doing at the moment?

A further question is raised by the remarks attributed to "observers" Heather Ryan of the Open Society Justice Initiative, who is quoted as saying that the ECCC's rules "do not provide a timeline or deadline" for the Pre-Trial Chamber's decision, and further that "the rules are ambiguous about if [the decision] will be made public". This is curious because the same observation, almost word for word, was made by your journalists nine paragraphs earlier. Is it possible that some kind of computer error has caused the journalists' views to be accidentally attributed to Heather Ryan?

Whoever the observer/s may be in this case, her/their concerns seem unwarranted. First, as pointed out above, there is no special need for haste. Second, it is difficult to understand how the Pre-Trial Chamber could keep its decision secret even if it wished to, since there are visible activities that will or will not take place according to its decision. Further, it seems strange indeed to start raising objections to the court's rules two years after they were adopted. Is it proposed by the observer/s that the court adjourn its proceedings in order to amend its rules?

Allen Myers

Phnom Penh

Send letters to: [email protected] or P.O.鈥圔ox 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.

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