The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s pre-trial chamber will in December consider an appeal challenging its decision to dismiss Case 004/01 against former district leader Im Chaem.
The hearing on December 11-12 comes after the international co-prosecutor objected to the tribunal’s proposed closure of the case against Ms Chaem, who was a high-ranking Khmer Rouge member with allegedly close ties to Pol Pot. The court will hear arguments from civil party lawyers, the national co-prosecutor, the international co-prosecutor, and national and international defence co-lawyers before it decides whether to dismiss the case or send it to trial.
“The charged person, if present, shall be given the opportunity to make a personal statement at the end of the hearing,” the court said.
The decision on the appeal is expected within six months of the hearing, at the latest, it added.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal in February dismissed Case 004/01 against Ms Chaem on the grounds that she was not a “senior leader” within the regime.
The Law on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia states that the purpose of the tribunal is to “bring to trial senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea and those who were most responsible for the crimes and serious violations of Cambodian penal law, international humanitarian law and custom, and international conventions recognised by Cambodia, that were committed during the period from 17 April 1975 to 6 January 1979”.
According to local media, the government has been vehemently opposed to Cases 003 and 004, which includes Ms Chaem’s case, saying they could cause a civil war.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has long said the tribunal should go no further than Case 002, a statement echoed by the court’s national investigating judge You Bunleng, who reportedly refused to sign off on Cases 003 and 004.
Experts and observers have since questioned if the cases could be susceptible to government pressure.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia and himself a survivor of the regime, said the chamber needs to hear the arguments of the parties in the appeal relating to Case 004/01.
The tribunal must respect its own internal rules, be guided by the evidence, and implement the law accordingly, he said.
“Sometimes the result may not be what we wanted or may be difficult for many survivors to live with, but we need to accept the decision made by the judges,” he said.
“A good judge makes good decision. A bad judge makes sloppy decision.”
The genocide from 1975 to 1979 led to the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population, or between one and three million people.
From 1976 to 1979, Ms Chaem was said to be responsible for setting up security offices in two sectors, including the largest one in Democratic Kampuchea, the Phnom Trayoung security office. While in charge, she allegedly contributed to the arbitrary arrest, detention and execution of thousands of individuals.