Cambodia PM rejects further prosecution of Khmer Rouge officials by UN tribunal

[JURIST] Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] in a meeting Wednesday that the government will not allow the prosecution of low-ranking Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] officers by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website]. Hun Sen claims that further prosecution of former Khmer Rouge officials would disturb the ongoing peace process in Cambodia and says the country should move on from the tragic events that allegedly caused the death of more than two million civilians between 1975 and 1979. Critics accuse Hun Sen of trying to limit the scope [AP report] of the tribunal to prevent his political associates from being indicted. Hun Sen was formerly a Khmer Rouge officer along with many of his closest allies. Ban, who was visiting Cambodia as part of his four-country Asian tour, also took time to meet with officials of the ECCC. Ban praised [press release, PDF] the work of the tribunal, calling it "crucial in the world's fight against impunity."

Last month, the ECCC indicted [JURIST report] four former Khmer Rouge leaders. The indicted leaders, Ieng Sary [JURIST news archive], Ieng Thirith [case materials], Khieu Samphan [JURIST news archive] and Nuon Chea [JURIST report], have been detained since 2007 and are charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and offenses under the Cambodian Criminal Code 1956. In April, the ECCC dismissed appeals [JURIST report] by Ieng Thirith, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samp to block the extension of their provisional detention. The ECCC handed down its first conviction [JURIST report] of a former Khmer Rouge official in July. Kaing Guek Eav [case materials; JURIST news archive], also known as "Duch," was found guilty of crimes against humanity and of violating the 1949 Geneva Conventions. In August, lawyers for Duch filed a notice of appeal [JURIST report] of his conviction. Last month, the prosecution filed its own notice of appeal [JURIST report] seeking to increase Kaing's term of imprisonment. The prosecution identified three grounds for appeal, including a discernible error in the exercise of sentencing discretion, an error of law regarding cumulative convictions and an error of law regarding enslavement.

 

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