ECCC Reparations

This blog is designed to serve as a repository of analyses, news reports and press releases related to the issue of RERAPATIONS within the framework of the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a.k.a. the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Co-Prosecutors Welcome Legal Complaints From Victims

Co-Prosecutors Welcome Legal Complaints From Victims
Posted date: 05-06-2007Source: Somne Thmey
By: Neth Pheaktra

The Office of Co-Prosecutors of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has begun its work and initial investigation since July 2006 although the Khmer Rouge Tribunal doesn’t have the internal rules yet. “Co-prosecutors’ tasks do not rely on the internal rules since the co-prosecutors are the plaintiffs who can start their tasks without any effects.
There is enough evidence to make an accusation
After 9 months in positions, the national and international co-prosecutors have investigated and gathered a number of evidence at various crime scenes around Cambodia. "Up to the present, we have collected enough evidence to make an accusation and issue an initial investigation warrant," said Chea Leang. However, she claimed that according to the legal procedures, the co-prosecutors must wait until the tribunal's internal rules are completely adopted. "Then we'll prepare for the final investigation and send the case to co-investigating judges to continue the investigation," she said.
However, with respect to the legal procedures of investigation in the Civil Law system which Cambodia has been practicing, the co-prosecutor asked not to mention the suspects who will be accused. She just hinted that a name list of a group of people will be sent to the Office of Co-Investigating Judges in order to make an in-depth investigation after the internal rules are adopted. She said that there would be a clear explanation when an individual was accused. According to Chea Leang, the Office of Co-Prosecutors has a policy to make a guide of the explanation about who are the senior leaders and who are people most responsible.
Concerning the collection of evidence of the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime, the co-prosecutor claimed that her office has done the initial investigation thanks to the complaints filed by victims and has researched on documents from various sources including the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) [and] living witnesses who survived the Democratic Kampuchea Regime. As the crimes happened 30 years ago, the co-prosecutor said that amongst the international courts, there was no any other court which was more difficult than the Khmer Rouge court since the crimes occurred long time ago and that even witnesses were aged and documents were decayed. So, it was not quite easy to find evidence, she said. She took the case of a mass grave in Kralanh, Siem Reap. A witness said that during the Khmer Rouge regime the mass grave had been 5 metres deep but now it was only 3 metres deep due to the rain, she said. As a result, the original structure was difficult to draw a conclusion on. However, Robert Petit, Canadian-international co-prosecutor, said that although it was a bit difficult, there were traces of the crimes left around the country. "It is the truth that we must have a right method to investigate for evidence of the crimes in order to understand clearly about all aspects including crime scenes, witnesses, and other connections," said Petit.
For the investigation of the crimes committed three decades ago, Rupert Petit pointed out the importance of the cooperation between the national and international co-investigating judges that the investigation for evidence is for the accusation on the suspects who committed crimes during the Khmer Rouge regime
The Office of Co-Prosecutors welcomes the complaints from victims
As the initial investigation was started, the Office of Co-Prosecutors has also received complaints from time to time. "The Office of Co-Prosecutors has received some legal complaints, but there are not many yet," said Chea Leang. The co-prosecutor appeals to victims to continue to file complaints to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and said that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal would always welcome the complaints from Cambodians both living inside and outside Cambodia although there was no Office of Victims yet.
Prosecutor Chea Leang said that the complaints received would be checked by the national and international co-prosecutors to find out whether they were under the jurisdiction of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal or not since in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal's jurisdiction, there was a clear definition which defined the senior leaders and people most responsible for severe crimes committed from April 17, 1975 to January 6, 1979 against national law and other international treaties which Cambodia had accepted. "If the crimes are not under the jurisdiction, the co-prosecutors cannot make any accusation since the jurisdiction is very important for the law of the trial on the former Khmer Rouge leaders," said the co-prosecutor. "However, we'll go through all the legal complaints and if any of the complaints are under the jurisdiction of the ECCC, co-prosecutors will take actions on those certain complaints. But if the complaints are not under the jurisdiction, co-prosecutors have discretion to keep those complaints without taking any actions. And we'll inform about those complaints on which are not taken actions to the owners of the complaints."
Prosecutor Chea Leang said that complaints which have been made to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal at the moment do not have a specific form and that even the national courts at the present don't have too. She noticed that some of the complaints filed by victims are cases against the Common Law whilst some are against the Criminal Law. Although the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will take actions on only the most important criminal cases, she stressed that all the complaints will always be welcomed by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
With the hope that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal's internal rules will be completely adopted in the plenary session, Chea Leang said that there would be a swearing-in ceremony organized by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in order that judicial police who were working in the national courts became investigators of the ECCC. After the internal rules are adopted, the Office of Co-Prosecutors is ready to send the cases to co-investigating judges to continue the process.
(Informal Translation)Extracted from Somne Thmey, #113, Monday-Sunday, June 4-10, 2007
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