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.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Noun Chea Flight Risk?

Noun Chea Flight Risk?

Stan Starygin

The Co-Investigating Judges in their recently released detention order pointed out, among other factors, that one of the factors which had contributed to the Co-Investigating Judges' decision to detain Noun Chea was their assertion that his release was "risk-provoking in the context of today's Cambodian society" which might "lead to violence" and "perhaps imperil the very safety of the charged person [Noun Chea], that he might "pressure witnesses and victims" and might be "a flight risk". Let's take a look at these assertions one by one.

If Noun Chea's living freely in Pailin for the 8 years had provoked any public reaction despite the publication of copious amounts of materials alleging his participation in the crimes of Democratic Kampuchea, what reason do the Co-Investigating Judges have to believe that it will now? The press has never made any secret as to the domicile of Noun Chea since he surroundered to the government in 1999, and anyone who's ever visited him in Pailin knows that Noun Chea's address is the local lore. This shows that if anyone had wanted to cause trouble and mete out vigilante justice to Noun Chea, would have had no problem locating him. Noun Chea lived in his house openly and hired no bodyguards or guards of any kind. And yet, for 8 years nothing had happened. No violence, no disruptions of public order.

"Pressure of witnesses and victims"? The ECCC isn't exactly an example of supersonic speed of negotiations between a national government and the UN. It had been a long time in the making. A long, long time. Even after the establishment was effectuated, the ECCC judges bickered for over half a year over the internal rules of court. Wouldn't this, and years leading up to the ECCC process, have been enough to tamper with the evidence that Noun Chea had access to and felt was incriminating? Considering that ex-KR keep pretty good tabs on one another, wouldn't this have been enough time to get to the witnesses and victims, had he desired to do so and try to silence them?

Lastly, the Co-Investigating judges asserted that Noun Chea's statements regarding him having no intent to escape from the legal process simply couldn't be trusted. Long-term KR scholars -- which neither of the Co-Investigating judges are -- know that this statement of Noun Chea isn't anything new. He's been very consistent in saying so in every interview he's given in the last few years, including the interview given to this author. The Co-Investigating Judges' decision to detain would have won accolades had it fairly assessed the situation on the ground, rather than being a mere intention to detain to make things easier for the court. All suspects in the KR affair must be treated as different individuals, and not a uniform. It's possible to be under investigation for the gravest crimes there are, and still be a man of honor and integrity. Being investigation in relation to a crime, accused or even convicted of a crime doesn't strip one off of all features of character that are universally perceived as positive.

Thorough research and fair assessment would make the Co-Investigating Judges' decisions on custody much more becoming of the mandate of this court.


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