International Judges and Prosecutors might walk out on Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Avoid Bad Reputation

Posted by khmernews on March 15, 2007

Although the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been progressing gradually, lawyers observed that there might be disagreement over the internal rules for the tribunal between the Cambodian judges and prosecutors and the international co-judges and co-prosecutors as the Cambodian side is working more according to what they have been appointed to do by their political parties.

Recently, international co-judges and co-prosecutors warned that they will walk out of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal if there is no agreement on the internal rules before April, 2007.
Although some disagreements have been resolved, they have slowed down the progress of the tribunal by at least 6 months.

Marcel Lemonde, a French judge, said that the initial public court might be held in early 2008. Previously, the trial was scheduled to be started in July, 2007.

There are some important problems which make international co-judges and co-prosecutors wary of going forward. Lemonde said that the impartiality of the judges and prosecutors in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as well as other aspects are not based on outside analysis or events. He pointed out that there should be respect for international laws and guarantees that the tribunal is equitable  and just.. Moreover, he wanted protection for the judges and prosecutors to ensure their impartiality and freedom.

Lemonde said that the court has to conform to Cambodian laws with respect to the international law. At the moment, there is an assessment on whether to enforce Cambodian laws or to value international law. The participation rule of the international lawyers to defend their clients in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been agreed by everyone. In the rule, all international lawyers for both accused and victim sides need to be clarified by Cambodian co-judges and prosecutors.

Lemonde continued that lawyers will be selected by the suspects themselves and they will have full rights to perform their tasks. According to Lemonde, a UN judge in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, there are two types of accused, the historical senior Khmer Rouge leaders of the Democratic Kampuchea Regime and the most responsible persons for the crimes. The followers and the action takers will not be brought into the court, but they will be chosen for particular events.

In the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s compound located in the suburb along the National Road No.4, a facility with 8 prison cells for temporarily detaining the accused on remand has also been built. A lot of cases will be built and tried continuously [in the tribunal].

Lemonde demonstrated that they might have difficulties if there are more than 8 suspects. The tribunal also allows public discussion about the events which occurred during the Democratic Kampuchea Regime which dates back 30 years.

Concerning the budget of USD56.3 million for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Lemonde explained that if the internal rules are passed in May, 2007, the tribunal will have taken a year already – without any noticeable results – and that there will only be two more years to finish the cases. It will be bad for the tribunal if the donors and UN stop their funding half way through.

3 years for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is too short a time and USD56 million will not be enough. There might be proposals for more funding for the tribunal. The length of time for the tribunal is based on the size of each investigation and the defendants’ appeals.

Extracted from: Samleng Yuvachun Khmer. Vol.14, #2965. Friday, 09th February, 2007.


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