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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid