The ECCC Continues To Cause Complication

Posted by khmernews on August 7, 2007


One Cambodian-French employee and two other Cambodian employees, who have been working in the Office of Co-Prosecutors, are transferred to work in the Office of Co-Investigating Judges of the Khmer Rouge (KR) Tribunal, according to a KR Tribunal’s source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The change has made the Co-Investigating Judges express their disappointment on August 3 and caused the concerns on the independence and transparency in the investigation on the Khmer Rouge (KR) case.

You Bunleng, KR court’s co-investigating judge, questions the independence and transparency of the Investigating Judges if employees from the Office of Co-Prosecutors working in the Office of Co-Investigating Judges. According to Judge You Bunleng, the three employees have worked with Co-Prosecutors in issuing the indictment and when the case has been sent to the Co-Investigating Judges, they go along to work in the Office of Co-Investigating Judges too. 

The concern of You Bunleng has been overruled by the Co-Prosecutors and they consider the change as an ordinary issue, not an intervention into the Judges’ tasks. Co-Prosecutor Robert Petit explains that in the international legal system, employees who work with Co-Prosecutors can also work with Co-Investigating Judges if there is no legal disagreement.
Lawyer Sok Sam Oeun, director of the legal aid group Cambodian Defenders Project, claimed that the transfer of the three employees from the Office of Co-Prosecutors to work in the Office of Co-Investigating Judges can cause “a little” problem of criticism over independence. “However, the power is in the two Co-Judges’ hands. By not letting the three employees hold the same case they did at the Office of Co-Prosecutors, the problem of independence can be solved,” said Sok Sam Oeun.

It should be remembered that on [July] 18, the Co-Prosecutors filed an Introductory Submission with 5 KR leaders’ names to the Co-Investigating Judges. As a result, early this week, the Co-Judges issued a provisional detention order against former Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison’s chief under the accusation of committing crimes against humanity.

Recently, the US Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) has pointed out that the budgetary shortfalls have made the KR Tribunal face many problems as the tribunal has been moving forward. The OSJI raised in its monthly report that the additional budgets had been claimed by the court to be appealed for to local and international communities by 2008. However, expenses in the KR Tribunal haven’t been made public. The report also described significant additional funds which are required for a number of essentials, including: plenary session organization, legal committee meetings, audio/visual equipment, voice and film recordings, translation services, information dissemination, legal support and witness protection and support.

The OSJI’s report described the progress in the ECCC, but claimed that due to many delays in starting the legal procedure, the tribunal was unlikely to finish its tasks in 3 years. Therefore, additional funds are needed for the prolongation. […]

The KR Tribunal which is also participated from the United Nations has been planned to spend $56.3 million in which $43 million is contributed by the UN and the rest by Cambodian side. KR Tribunal’s Spokesman Reach Sambath accepts that both national and international sides are running out of funds and claims that Cambodian and international sides are planning to appeal for funds to fill in the gaps in October. He said that the budgetary issue was not a blockage in the KR Tribunal’s process.

“We aren’t worried there will be deadlock in the future since we think that victims’ expectation would be responded in the near future,” said Reach Sambath. “Some criticisms are good for the KR Tribunal, but some others are ineffective since for some tasks, the KR Tribunal has been doing them and the tribunal doesn’t have to make public about some issues too.”

Civil society’s officials acknowledge the progress in the ECCC over the past few weeks that the court even indicted Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, former chief of Tuol Sleng prison of committing crimes against humanity. However, the ECCC has caused a new problem when the Co-Prosecutors send their employees to work in the Office of Co-Investigating Judges. The ECCC must reconsider the issue since the Co-Prosecutors seem not appropriate to do so.

All Cambodians living inside and outside Cambodia want the KR trials to be underway soon in order to reveal the reasons of mass murder of 1.7 million people between April 17, 1975 and January 6, 1979.  As a result, the ECCC, especially the Co-Prosecutors should not cause complication anymore. Moreover, former KR National Assembly’s President Nuon Chea and Former National State Presidium’s President Khieu Samphan are also ready to testify in court. If the ECCC caused anymore problem, the KR trials would not be able to be held in early 2008 as planned.

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol. 14, #30105, Sunday-Monday, August 5-6, 2007.


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