UN SG: Cambodia genocide court to decide on future of Khmer Rouge trials

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said Thursday that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] will decide whether to prosecute additional Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] officers. Ban spoke to reporters after visiting a genocide museum in Phnom Penh, ending a three-day trip [Phnom Penh Post report] to Cambodia, and said that the ECCC would decide if there will be more prosecutions as part of an "international judicial process." While speaking in front of the ECCC Wednesday, Ban called for those responsible to be held accountable [text] for the tragic events that allegedly caused the death of more than two million civilians between 1975 and 1979. Ban also praised [UN News Centre report] the ECCC's work in pursuing justice, even 30 years after the fall of the regime, and asked for the government's "full cooperation" with the tribunal and "complete respect for its judicial independence." Ban's support followed Wednesday's comments by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile], in which Hun Sen said that the Cambodian government will not allow the UN tribunal to continue prosecuting [JURIST report] former Khmer Rouge officials because the cases disturb the country's ongoing peace process. Hun Sen was formerly a Khmer Rouge officer along with many of his closest allies.

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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