Cambodia genocide court announces appointment of acting co-prosecutor

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] announced [press release] Monday that William Smith of Australia has been appointed acting international co-prosecutor to replace Canadian Robert Petit [official profile] when his resignation [JURIST report] takes effect September 1. Smith has served for three years as deputy co-prosecutor and was previously a trial lawyer, legal officer, and analyst at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website]. Petit announced his resignation in June, citing personal and family reasons. Smith will serve as co-prosecutor until a permanent replacement is chosen. The Cambodian national co-prosecutor Chea Leang will continue on in her role.

The ECCC, charged with trying those responsible for atrocities committed during the rule of the Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder], is in the midst of the first trial of a former Khmer Rouge leader, Kaing Guek Eav [TrialWatch backgrounder, JURIST news archive], also known as "Duch." Earlier this month, an ECCC spokesperson said that a verdict is expected [JURIST report] in early 2010. Kaing is the first of eight ex-Khmer Rouge officials expected to be tried before the ECCC, which recently announced the establishment of an independent counselor to oversee anti-corruption efforts [JURIST reports]. The ECCC has been plagued by accusations of corruption, and, last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] asked the ECCC to determine the scope of its prosecutions [JURIST report] "to thwart growing perceptions that court decisions are directed by the government." In February, HRW warned that ECCC trials were in danger of being tainted for their failure to follow fair trial standards, and in January a Cambodian court agreed to hear a corruption case [JURIST reports] involving two ECCC judges.



 

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