The National and International Co-Investigating Judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday disagreed on whether former Democratic Kampuchea navy commander Meas Muth should be prosecuted by the court, prompting the case to be transferred to the Pre-trial Chamber.
The National Co-Investigating Judge ruled that Mr Muth was not a senior Khmer Rouge leader nor was he one of the persons most responsible for crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge.
“In reaching that decision, [the judge] considered the degree of participation by Meas Muth and the gravity of the crimes, and other factors such as the substance of the ECCC Law and Agreement as well as the intentions of their drafters,” said an ECCC statement.
A summary from the judge said that Mr Muth’s “position and roles are much more in line with facilitation, and not active participation in policy-making”.
“His participation was neither proximate to nor active in the commission of the crimes,” it added. “The National Co-Investigating Judge concluded that the ECCC does not have personal jurisdiction over MEAS Muth and dismissed all allegations against him accordingly.”
However, the International Co-Investigating Judge ruled that Mr Muth is subject to the ECCC’s jurisdiction because he was a senior Khmer Rouge leader, adding that there is “sufficient evidence to indict him for the genocide of the Vietnamese, crimes against humanity, war crimes as well as premeditated homicide under Cambodian law”.
“He was a Khmer Rouge official,” a summary from the International Co-Investigation Judge said. “Meas Muth is among those most responsible because of a combination of his rank and scope of authority in the hierarchy of the Democratic Kampuchea.”
“Meas Muth held an elevated role in the Democratic Kampuchea hierarchy,” it added. “He was called upon to implement purges of the Revolutionary Army of Kampuchea.”
“In sum, both the position and conduct of Meas Muth mark him out as a major player in the DK structure and as a willing and driven participant in the brutal implementation of its criminal and inhuman policies,” it added. “He should stand trial for his crimes.”
Mr Muth and former Khmer Rouge air force commander Sou Met were initially named suspects in Case 003 regarding crimes against humanity committed by the regime.
However, a judicial investigation on Mr Met in Case 003/02 was terminated in June 2015 following his death.
Ang Udom, Mr Muth’s lawyer, said yesterday that he welcomes the decision made by the National Co-Investigating Judge, but declined to comment further.
“I cannot comment about this issue yet because I have not received the decision,” Mr Udom said.
Som Bun Oeun, a victim of the Khmer Rouge regime, yesterday said that he supports the decision by the International Co-Investigating Judge.
“I think that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal must sentence Meas Muth because he was a high-ranking official in Pol Pot’s regime,” Mr Bun Oeun said. “I call on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to sentence Meas Muth and other surviving leaders because they hurt Cambodian people.”
ECCC spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday said the case will need to be solved by the Pre-trial Chamber following the two different rulings by the Judges.
“The Pre-trial Chamber of the ECCC will decide whether Meas Muth is under the jurisdiction of the court or not,” Mr Pheaktra said.