News / Asia

Khmer Rouge Trial Judge Defends Tribunal

A Cambodian man stands in front of human bones and skulls of victims of the Khmer Rouge at a small shrine in Phnom Sampove, Battambang province, 314 kilometers (195 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh (file photo)
A Cambodian man stands in front of human bones and skulls of victims of the Khmer Rouge at a small shrine in Phnom Sampove, Battambang province, 314 kilometers (195 miles) northwest of Phnom Penh (file photo)
Lou Lorscheider

An international investigative judge overseeing the prosecution of war crimes suspects in Cambodia is defending the tribunal from critics who claim the court has failed to pursue a politically sensitive case against two former senior Khmer Rouge military officers. Judge Siegfried Blunk spoke to VOA’s Khmer Service in an exclusive interview Wednesday ahead of the expected start of the trial of the four most-senior survivors of the hard-line communist movement of the 1970s.  

Blunk and fellow judge You Bunleng were criticized last month by international tribunal prosecutors and court monitors who allege that the two jurists closed a case against the military officers after a 20-month probe, without interviewing the suspects or visiting sites where atrocities were alleged to have taken place.

Blunk told VOA that the case, known as “Case 3,” has not been dismissed.

“The co-investigating judges also focused on the question of whether the suspects are among those most responsible for Khmer Rouge crimes.  Because only for the most responsible, does the tribunal have jurisdiction,” Blunk said.

Blunk acknowledged that the investigating judges have preliminarily wrapped up their probe of Case 3, but said no final decision on whether to go forward has been reached.  The chief prosecutor has submitted an appeal asking for further investigation, including the direct questioning of the suspects, but no ruling has been issued.

"According to the tribunal’s rules, there are many steps that must be taken before the investigating judges can make their final decision, which is called a closing order.  Now, in Case 3, only the first of those many steps was taken," he said.

Blunk spoke just weeks before the expected trial of 79-year-old Khieu Samphan, the nominal head of state for Cambodia during the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge rule; 84-year-old Nuon Chea, who is described as the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologue; and former foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith.  Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.

Historians say that as many as 2 million Cambodians died from execution, starvation or other abuses under the Khmer Rouge.

Blunk said the trial of Khieu Samphan and his colleagues, known as Case 2, could take two years.

“This trial will be one of the largest and most complex in the history of international justice, if not the largest and the most complex.  The investigating judges have admitted more than 2,000 civil parties to Case 2.  A further 1,700 were recently added by the pre-trial chamber.  So there is victim participation on a grand scale,” he said.

The judge also said his office is “vigorously investigating” Case 4, which centers on three more confidential suspects.  He said the status of that case will also be determined in large part by whether the suspects are found to be among the most responsible for Khmer Rouge crimes.

Critics say their quest for justice is further complicated by the fact that the suspects in Cases 3 and 4 are unidentified, preventing civil plaintiffs from filing pleadings in the case.  

The trial of the four principal defendants is the major event for the United Nations-backed tribunal, which was created to demonstrate impartial justice and foster national healing in the Southeast Asian nation.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid