Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Teams conflict on Case 004/01



Teams conflict on Case 004/01

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Im Chaem, former senior member of the Khmer Rouge, sits beneath her house in Oddar Meanchey in 2014. Charlotte Pert

Teams conflict on Case 004/01

In a split with their international counterparts, the Cambodian half of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s prosecution team yesterday announced they believe former high-ranking cadre Im Chaem should not be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, illustrating a long-standing division in the court’s approach to further cases.

The split was made evident in a statement released yesterday in which prosecutors announced they had made their final submissions to the co-investigating judges on October 27 and offered summaries of their findings in Chaem’s case, known as Case 004/01.

In the statement, the national prosecutor argued Chaem should not be prosecuted, saying she was “neither a ‘senior leader’ of the Democratic Kampuchea regime nor among those ‘most responsible’ for the crimes committed”, and therefore outside the court’s jurisdiction.

The international prosecutor, however, begged to differ, arguing that while Chaem was not a high-ranking member of the Khmer Rouge inner circle or a zone leader, her leadership positions at the district level still meant she was one of those “most responsible” for crimes committed under the regime.

“Im Chaem held positions of responsibility that enabled her to make a significant contribution to crimes committed in areas where she exercised authority,” the international co-prosecutor’s submissions read.

Chaem, it continues, was district secretary in Koh Andet and given leadership positions in the Southwest and Northwest Zones by Ta Mok and Pol Pot, “demonstrating her close links to the highest levels”.

The international co-prosecutor further argued that she helped establish one of the largest security offices under the regime, the Phnom Trayoung security office, and oversaw three others.

“Thousands of individuals were arbitrarily arrested, detained and executed in these and other locations under her responsibility,” they wrote, adding Chaem is allegedly responsible for crimes including murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, forced marriage and rape.

“[She] is criminally responsible in that she was the superior of perpetrators, knew about the crimes and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the crimes or punish those responsible.”

Chaem’s lawyer, Wayne Jordash, did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

Her case is now in the hands of the co-investigating judges, who are expected to issue a closing order by March next year. That document will either indict her or dismiss the charges.

But the government – and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself – has long made known its position that the tribunal should conclude with the current Case 002 against the Khmer Rouge’s most senior surviving leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. That position has been echoed in the past by the court’s national investigating judge, You Bunleng, who has refused to sign off on charges in Case 004, which also involves Ao An and Yim Tith, and in Case 003, involving Meas Muth, leading experts to question whether the cases would fold under government pressure.

For tribunal observer Long Panhavuth, the latest disagreement between the Cambodian and international prosecutors came as no surprise.

“Whether or not this is based on good legal reasoning, the case is already tainted by political influence and the lack of public information,” he said.

While Panhavuth said he welcomed the statement from the court, he urged it to do more to “revitalise the credibility of the investigative process”.

“I think the court does not operate in a vacuum, they need to be accountable to the victim and to the accused,” he said.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he had almost daily requests for documents related to Chaem’s case and urged the court to look at the evidence.

“From the beginning, we knew the court could not be perfect, but we knew it would give some closure to the victims,” he said.

“For survivors like me, we support this tribunal, because we want to see a final judgement, not these disputes.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that