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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora