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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Former Rebels Skeptical of Guilty Verdicts

With five leaders awaiting trial at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, former cadre and other officials say the court could have a hard time building cases against them. Not everyone agrees.
“How can [evidence] be found?” asked Sok Pheap, a former Khmer Rouge division commander, in an exclusive interview with VOA Khmer at his office in Poipet district, Banteay Meanchey province.
Now a major general in the army, following a defection from the Khmer Rouge in 1996, Sok Pheap is a deputy chief on the Cambodian side of a joint border committee with Thailand.
“Who were the killers?” he asked. “I didn’t know; I was the soldier in the forest, and when I came back home also my relatives had gone missing, killed, and most of villagers had died.”
The five jailed senior leaders—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Kaing Kek Iev—are all facing various atrocity crimes charges and are being held in detention. Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch, will have the first day in court, March 30, in what is expected to be the easiest case to try.
Directly linking other leaders to the killings might be harder than it seems, and have unintended consequences, former rebels said.
Long Norin, the ex-aid to former foreign minister Ieng Sary, told VOA Khmer that trying leaders who were not responsible for the killing will cause people to feel unstable.
He gave as an example Khieu Samphan, who was the nominal head of the Khmer Rouge but who Long Norin says held no real power.
“Those who killed their fathers are still free and alive today,” he said. “That’s what I’m concerned about. Why are they not arrested? Khieu Samphan…not even a chicken would he dare to kill.”
Long Narin said the tribunal won’t be able to find justice for the deaths caused by the Khmer Rouge and will only impair development of the country.
Former Khmer Rouge division commander Meas Muth, who experts say could face indictment if the tribunal widens its prosecution, said the Khmer Rouge should not be blamed for killings. If the courts are legitimate, he said, anyone who was guilty should be arrested.
“For instance, the skull bones that have been displayed: the court must know which skull belonged to a person killed by the Vietnamese, which belonged to a person killed by B-52 bombers, or any of the Khmers who did not die by the Khmer Rouge.”
The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s international prosecutor, Robert Petite, has said more indictments should be investigated, a recommendation opposed by his Cambodian counterpart, Chea Leang. The Pre-Trial Chamber has yet to decide on whether more people will be investigated.
However, Tep Kunnal, a former aid to Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge ambassador to the UN, said the tribunal law passed by the National Assembly specifies that only senior leaders of the regime will be prosecuted.
He said he supported whatever the UN and Cambodian positions of further indictments turn out to be, as both sides would be seeking to find solutions to tribunal problems.
“In peace-building like we have today, and joint development of the country like we have today,” he said, “one would not do anything backward; one would take Cambodia as a sample for other places in solving every issue.”
Tep Kunnal would not comment on what difficulties the court might face finding documents to link senior leaders to the killing fields.
However, lawyer Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, said Khmer Rouge cases that have been buried for 30 years could be difficult to find evidence and witnesses for. Those who know the most are former Khmer Rouge cadre, he said, and unlikely to testify against their supporters.
“There are two issues in the Khmer Rouge trial,” he said. “One: to find evidence that the crime happened, and at this point, that’s not hard for the Khmer Rouge tribunal. But because our Khmer Rouge court does not charge the perpetrator—we charge those most responsible—it may be hard to find evidence or witnesses that can say, ‘Oh, the most responsible person is that name, A, or that name, B.’”
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has given more than 600,000 documents to the court, disagrees.
“There are many that want to be witnesses, no one is afraid,” he said. “The number of documents is not important, but wisdom to understand the story, to understand the history, and the legal aspects, is important. And that’s the role of the court.”
Many documents exist that former Khmer Rouge cadre are unaware of, even those linking the killings to their orders, he said. Skulls can now be verified through scientific experts and DNA, and analyzed for cause of death.
“It’s the obligation of the lawyers to make historical documents into evidence,” he added, “and it’s the obligation of the courts to connect these documents to the crimes that occurred.”

Main Trial for Prison Chief Gets Underway

A former math teacher who came to be the head of a murderous Khmer Rouge prison system sat before a panel of trial judges on Monday, more than three decades after his regime fell and after years of worry none of its leaders would ever see a day in court.
The prison chief, Duch, 66, sat in the dock with a still face, listening closely before five judges of the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Trial Chamber. The indictment included war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder and torture. During a three-hour opening day, Duch wore glasses and read along as the charges were read. He answered questions with a strong, clear voice.
Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, was in charge of the now infamous Tuol Sleng prison, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, where traitors to the revolution and others were sent for torture and confession.
Once inside the walls of Tuol Sleng, prisoners were shackled to beds, kept in tiny cells, beaten, electrocuted, and made to confess crimes against the Angkar, the Organization.
“My feeling is very angry and very happy, mixed,” prison survivor Bu Meng, who was present at the court Monday, told reporters. “I am angry that Duch killed my wife. And I am very happy because the court is trying the Khmer Rouge leaders. Duch’s trial is very valuable for humanity around the world, and for Cambodians, and for me.”
An estimated 16,000 prisoners went through Tuol Sleng, a former Phnom Penh high school, before they were executed at a site on the outskirts of the capital, Choeung Ek, which was also administered by Duch, along with a second prison in Phnom Penh, Prey Sar.
Bu Meng, who was arrested in 1976 as an “enemy of the revolution” for his participation in the Lon Nol government, was released from the prison only when Vietnamese and Cambodian forces ousted the Khmer Rouge.
“I hope there will be justice in coming days,” he said.
Monday marked the most significant trial date so far for the tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC, which has been dogged by accusations of corruption and mismanagement.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the trial marked “the end of impunity in Cambodia.”
The tribunal is currently holding four other former leaders of the regime: chief ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith.
Each is facing charges for either for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or both. None is facing charges of genocide. Nearly 2 million Cambodians perished under the Khmer Rouge, officially called Democratic Kampuchea, from April 1975 to January 1979.
Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said Duch’s trial “gives once again hope for justice to victims, who have been waiting 30 years.” She said she expected more former leaders to face indictments.
US Ambassador Carol Rodley, who attended the opening session, was “gratified that it’s proceeding, and in the following weeks and months we’ll monitor the ECCC closely,” embassy spokesman John Johnson said.
The US played a key role in forging a tribunal agreement between the Cambodian government and the UN. Initial negotiations began and faltered as early as 1997, started up again in 2003, and concluded in 2005. The court stood up in 2006, but was delayed by disagreements between international and Cambodian judges and prosecutors on internal regulations and other matters. Its first arrests came in 2007.
More than 500 people, ranging from international diplomats to young Cambodian students, as well as 200 journalists from around the world, attended Monday’s proceedings, the most significant session of Duch’s trial to date.
Phy Sophoan, a student from the Royal University of Law and Economy, said she expected the trial to “provide justice for the Cambodian people.”
Some observers expressed shock on seeing Duch, wearing a collared shirt tucked neatly into his pants, healthy, answering questions posed by judges.
“Duch is apparently brave, [but] he is not enthusiastic,” said Om Cheantha, a farmer from Kampong Cham who lost her husband and brother under the Khmer Rouge, in 1976. “But he killed several million people. We wish the courts will condemn him fairly, for the deaths of millions of Cambodians.”

ECCC Resumes Trial of Former DK Prison Chief

PHNOM PENH, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) here on Monday resumed its trial of former Democratic Kampuchea's (DK) central prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch.
Charges were read at the court that he oversaw the death of some 15,000 people at his prison, which was called S-21 or Toul Sleng in Phnom Penh.

ECCC started trial in February against 66-year-old Duch, who faced charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Convention of 1949, homicide and torture, as well as other offenses which are defined and punishable under the law of ECCC.
He was first detained by the order of provisional detention on July 31, 2007, and could face maximum term of life in prison if the charges were found true.
Duch was the first DK leader that ECCC put on trial. There are still four other senior DK leaders under detention at ECCC, awaiting their trials.
DK ruled Cambodia in the late 1970s and was widely believed responsible for the death of millions of Cambodian people.
ECCC was co-installed by the United Nations and the Cambodian government two years ago in order to put the surviving DK leaders on trial.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Japan Bails Out ECCC Again

The Japanese government has announced a $200,000 contribution to the "Cambodian side" of the Tribunal to stave off yet another looming funding crisis. Japan, thus far, has been by far the largest contributor to the ECCC. Japanese contributions come with no strings attached, as Japan refuses to pay any heed to the financial irregularities alleged to have been committed by some members of the "Cambodian side" of the ECCC. Although diversification of funding sources was expected to be the fundraising route the RGC would take, the RGC has shown that it will be reluctant to seek alternative sources of funding and will continue knocking on the door which has opened so many times before instead.

ECCC Says No Pay for Nationals

Written by Georgia Wilkins
The Phnom Penh Post

Judge says insufficient funding has left Cambodian side insolvent.

A JUDGE at the Khmer Rouge tribunal has announced that Cambodian staff will not receive their salaries this month, as donor funds dry up amid concerns of corruption.

Kong Srim, president of the tribunal's Supreme Court chamber, told participants and media at the opening of the judge's fifth plenary Monday that the court's long-standing funding problems would now materialise into bankruptcy.

"Unfortunately, the national side of the court will not have sufficient funds for the staff salaries for this month," he said.

"I see this as our most important challenge, as it hardly seems reasonable for judicial officers and staff to be expected to continue working without remuneration," he added.

He said, however, that he was confident the problem would be resolved "before such a situation arises".

Trial chamber Judge Silvia Cartwright, speaking after Kong Srim, said resolving the issue of corruption is the only way to quash donor concerns.
"The problems mentioned by [Kong Srim] concerning funding can be resolved once the international community is confident of a corruption-free environment in which to hold trials," she said.

"International judges have said clearly and repeatedly that they will not allow corruption to interfere with the tribunal's delivery of justice for the people of Cambodia," she added.

The UN Development Program, which was administering donor funds to the Cambodian side of the court, decided to withhold funding after allegations arose in July, leaving hundreds of staff members without salaries for two months.

To date, neither side of the court has confronted previous allegations, and a review made in September by a UN oversight body has yet to be made public.

Court spokesperson Reach Sambath was unsure whether the more than 200 Cambodian staff would continue to work unpaid again.

"It's too early to say.... Our greatest concern is the translators. If it affects translators, it affects the whole court," he said.

The court began its first trial last month, with testimonies to start after March 30.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ieng Thirith Blames Nuon Chea For Killings

By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Thirith told tribunal judges Tuesday it was the regime’s ideologue, Nuon Chea, who was responsible for the thousands of executions at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison.

The chief of the prison, Kaing Kek Iev, is facing atrocity crimes charges for his role at the prison, known to the Khmer Rouge as S-21, and will stand trial in coming weeks.

But during a hearing over her provisional detention Tuesday, Ieng Thirith said Nuon Chea was responsible.

“I must say that Noun Chea killed all my students,” said Ieng Thirith, 77, who was social affairs minister for the regime. She spoke in anger, hands shaking, in both English and Khmer.

Charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, Ieng Thirith restated her innocence in the deaths of nearly 2 million people under the regime.

“Noun Chea sent my students to Kaing Guek Eav to be killed,” she said. “Don’t accuse me of being a murderer, or you will be cursed to the seventh hell,” Ieng Thirith said, warning too that the international side in the courts “does not understand Cambodian internal affairs.”

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the courts has yet to decide on an appeal by Ieng Thirith’s lawyers that she be released ahead of her trial.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Self-Admitted Torturers and Killers Are Khmer Rouge Victims?

For Khmer Rouge Guard, It Was Kill or Be Killed

ANLONG SAN, Cambodia: "We were victims, too," said Him Huy, the head of the guard detail at the Tuol Sleng torture house, who took part in the executions of thousands of people at a Khmer Rouge killing field.

As the prisoners knelt at the edges of mass graves, with their hands tied behind them, executioners swung iron bars at the backs of their heads - two times, if necessary - before they toppled forward into the pits.

"I had no choice," said Him Huy, 53. "If I hadn't killed them, I would have been killed myself."

In the severe and paranoid world of the Khmer Rouge prison, guards and torturers themselves worked under threat of death, and Him Huy saw a number of his colleagues kneel at the edges of their graves for that blow to the back of the neck.

"I used an iron bar about that long," he said, spreading his hands wide as he sat in a dry rice field to tell his story late last month, "and about as thick as my big toe."

Him Huy, guard and executioner at the most prominent Cambodian torture house, personifies the horror of the Khmer Rouge years, from 1975 to 1979, when at least 1.7 million people died of starvation and overwork as well as torture and execution.

As the trials of five senior Khmer Rouge figures get under way in Phnom Penh, they raise questions about the guilt - or victimhood - of lower-ranking cadre, the people who carried out the arrests, killings and torture, and who are unlikely to face trial.

Late at night, sometimes two or three times a week, Him Huy said, he drove trucks full of prisoners to the Choeung Ek killing field, where he logged them in - 20 or 30 or 80 at a time - and then confirmed that they had been killed.

He asserted that he had personally killed only five people, as demonstrations of loyalty to his superiors.

At least 14,000 people were arrested and interrogated at Tuol Sleng prison, which was known officially as S-21 and is now maintained as a museum. Only a handful survived.

Him Huy is back home now in this village 80 kilometers, or 50 miles, south of Phnom Penh - a farmer and father of nine, optimistic, hard-working and quick to smile, seemingly comfortable to be who he is and at ease with his memories. His neighbors seem to like him.

"Even the young people, when they have a party they always invite him," said his wife, Put Peng Aun. "If there's a party, he's got to be there."

Asked to describe himself, Him Huy said, "I'm not a bad person. I'm a good man. I never argue with anyone. I never fight with anyone. I have good intentions as a human being."

But some of those who knew him at the prison remember him harshly. One survivor, Bou Meng, says Him Huy beat and tortured him, poking at his wounds with a stick. "His face was so mean," he told interviewers at the Documentation Center of Cambodia, a private research center. "Today he looks gentle."

Two of Him Huy's co-workers at Tuol Sleng, quoted by the historian David Chandler in his book on the prison, "Voices from S-21," remembered him as "a seasoned killer, an important figure at the prison and a key participant in the execution process."

Him Huy is evasive about the extent of his duties at the prison. But whatever he did there, he said, he performed on pain of death.

"I am a victim of the Khmer Rouge," he said without hesitation.

"I did not volunteer to work at S-21." "We were all prisoners, those who killed and those who were killed," he said. "And in fact, for a lot of the staff there, the day came when they were killed, too. In the daytime we'd be eating together, and in the evening some were arrested and killed."

In a book about the prison staff called "Victims and Perpetrators?" the Documentation Center calculates that at least 563 members of the staff of Tuol Sleng - about one-third of the total - were executed while working there.

In a distilled and horrific way, Tuol Sleng was a microcosm of the nation, where half-starved and overworked people lived in constant fear of being arrested and killed, often for reasons they never learned.

The first defendant in the United Nations-backed tribunal is Him Huy's former boss, the commandant of Tuol Sleng prison, a tough, sharp-eyed man named Kaing Guek Eav and generally known as Duch. His trial began two weeks ago.

It was Duch who signed execution orders for both prisoners and errant staff. Indeed, Him Huy rose to become fifth or sixth in the chain of command after his superiors were pulled from their jobs and killed.

"Yes, I did kill people," Him Huy said. "I did transport people to Choeung Ek. I did verify lists of people at Choeung Ek. But Duch ordered me to do all of that."

Many Cambodians appear to accept this common defense among former Khmer Rouge cadre: that they had no choice but to be cruel, fearing for their own lives. It is a defense Duch himself has made in the past.

Visiting the prison recently, Chum Mey, another survivor of Tuol Sleng, described 12 days and nights of torture and terror, but without bitterness toward his abusers.

"My thought is not to put the blame on Him Huy because I don't know what I would have done in his place," he said. "I don't think I would have been able to disobey."

Thirty years have passed since the Khmer Rouge were ousted by a Vietnamese invasion. Him Huy is no different from his neighbors, raising a big family and tending to his beans and corn and rice.

At the end of a long interview, he headed back to his bean field, filling a cannister with pesticide and marching down the rows of long yellow beans, swinging a hose from left to right.

He made sure, he said, to walk with the wind behind him so that none of the pesticide would blow back in his face.

As Tribunal Nears, Trauma Surfaces

When the trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders start, former victims of the regime will have to relive the nightmare. The proceedings will be aired on televisions nationally and internationally. Already, the proceedings are starting to affect survivors of the regime.

Van Nath lived through incarceration at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison known as S-21. He will be one of the witnesses when Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, also known as Duch, goes on trial March 30. He told VOA Khmer that he felt unsettled as Duch’s trial approached.

“I have waited for this day for 30 years,” he said. “It’s natural that as the end is near, I feel unsettled. I cannot sleep at night. I keep waking up at night. And I ask myself why? I can’t find an answer.”

Thousands of miles away, a Cambodian-American author feels the same. Him Chanrithy lost both her parents and several siblings under the Khmer Rouge. Him Chanrithy, the author of a memoir, “When Broken Glass Floats,” told VOA Khmer she is trying to avoid news of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“On Feb. 17 when I heard from my friend in California about the initial hearing on Duch’s upcoming trial, I tried not to read about it, because it reminds me of the hardship under the Pol Pot regime,” she said. “It also brings back the nightmares.”

Kimlong Ung also lives in Oregon. When the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in April 1975, he was only 15 years old. He lost both his parents and a sister. He loses sleep, he said, tribunal or no.

“Whether there is a trial or not, I always have this feeling,” he said. “So when I go to bed, I often have nightmares. Sometimes I only sleep three or four hours.”

Dr. Kar Sunbaunat is the leading psychiatrist in Cambodia and the director of the Natural Program of Mental Health in Cambodia. Kar Sunbaunat said Cambodians suffered mentally starting in the late 1960s, as the Vietnam War spilled into Cambodia. But the most serious damage to their mental health really started during the Khmer Rouge regime.

“The Khmer Rouge tribunal is not the only reason to remind people of their past trauma,” he said in an interview. “Whenever they see images of people being killed anywhere in the world, it will remind them of what happened to them under the Pol Pot regime, and the symptoms will come back.”

Kar Sunbaunat said the Cambodian government anticipated the problems even after the tribunal and has trained about 35 psychiatrists to deal with the need. He said about 150 doctors have been trained on how to deal with mental health patients.

Helen Jarvis, director of public information of the tribunal, said her office is sending workers to remote areas to educate people about the importance of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“The court itself is making every effort to deal with people we come into contact with, so anybody who is called as a witness or anybody who is interviewed, we are doing our best to give them support,” she said.

Besides government services, there are a few non-governmental organizations in Cambodia that provide mental health care.

Dr. Chhim Sotheara is the director of the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, one of the country's few mental health facilities. He said recently his organization has signed an agreement with the tribunal to provide mental health support to witnesses and victims of the Khmer Rouge.

Chhim Sotheara tries to remind people that it’s normal to have nightmares. His center has set up hotlines to consult people who need help.

“As we have predicted before, many Cambodians have come to us for advice on how to deal with the trauma that has started to come back as the tribunal nears,” he said. “A number of people say they have nightmares, that they see their dead relatives calling for justice. So the trauma is coming back.”

DC-CAM: A Purportedly Bias-Free Research Institute? Director: Ten Years Ago, Our Target Was to Push For a Tribunal

As Khmer Rouge Trials Come, Center Looks Ahead
By Men Kimseng, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
10 March 2009

A dream of the Cambodian people to have peace and happiness after the fall of the US-backed regime of Lon Nol turned to disappointment and pain in April 1975, as the Khmer Rouge came to power. No Cambodian family survived the tragedy without loss.

For some survivors, the tragic events are still fresh. For others, the memory is too painful to recall. For Youk Chhang and his team at the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the collection of records and documents covering the regime’s four years of power is a work in progress.

Created in January 1995, one of the center’s main missions was to advocate for an international tribunal to see former leaders of the regime face justice for the nearly 2 million lives lost under the Khmer Rouge.

“Ten years ago, our target was to push for a tribunal that could bring to trial those who committed atrocities during the regime of Democratic Kampuchea between 1975 and 1979,” Youk Chhang said in a recent phone interview with VOA Khmer. “Now there is a court in place.”

The UN-Cambodian hybrid tribunal, known officially as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, came about after marathon negotiations between the government and the UN. The Khmer Rouge tribunal, as it is better known, received close to 1 million pages of documents on the Khmer Rouge, in hard copy and micro-film, from the Documentation Center in 2006.

But with that documentation being used by the courts, the center is looking forward.

The Documentation Center has now established a three-year strategy aimed at promoting memories of the regime and educating the younger generation on its atrocities.

The organization hopes to establish a permanent research center, the Sleuk Rith Institute, named for the dried leaves once used for record-keeping in Cambodia, which will also serve as a memorial, encouraging visitors to remember those who perished. It will be linked to other research institutes in Asia and the world, with construction slated to begin in 2010.

“This is a new turning point for the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, to move from a center that supported for the creation of a tribunal that will seek justice for Khmer Rouge victims to a permanent institute,” Youk Chhang said. “The institute is not just for people in Cambodia, but for the region, and will link to other institutes specializing in the studies of serious violations in the past.”

The institute will be built on top of a former Khmer Rouge prison on the campus of Boeung Trabek high school, not a coincidence, Youk Chhang said.

The Sleuk Rith Institute has received backing from Cambodia’s Ministry of Education.

“It is an institute with resources that enable us to do research, especially not just on the history of Democratic Kampuchea, but other documents related to Cambodia history,” Tun Sa Im, secretary of state for the ministry, told VOA by phone last week.

However, the Khmer Rouge tribunal is not yet ready to store its documents there after the trials are finished; it will be up to judges to decide which documents can go public.

“We welcome any initiative to collect information and documents [related to Khmer Rouge regime] for young people and future generations to have access to for their research,” a tribunal spokesman, Reach Sambath, told VOA by phone last week.

The tribunal is currently holding five former Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocity crimes: ideologue Nuon Chea, head of state Khieu Samphan, S-21 chief Kaing Kek Ieu, foreign minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, minister of social affairs.

The Documentation Center also included in its strategy the dissemination of a new book, “A History of Democratic Kampuchea,” written by Khamboly Dy, the first Cambodian author to write in detail on the regime.

The book, which Tun Sa Im called a detailed examination of daily life in the Khmer Rouge regime, will be used as a reference for school curriculum in late 2009.

“The history book has been approved by the ministry for use as a reference document. It is for teachers to refer to when they need to highlight certain aspects during the Khmer Rouge time, for example on how difficult lives were, so that students have a better understanding, as it is broader and more detailed than our current textbooks,” Tun Sa Im said.

As his center continues its work, Youk Chhang said only looking at the killings perpetrated by the regime was to miss many angles. Other aspects of the period include social issues, culture, art, economy, diplomacy and trade.

Still, the Documentation Center will compile and publish a book of names of all those known to have perished under the regime, which it will distribute to every commune in Cambodia. That book, together with other documents, will be digitized and put online.

Some Remain Skeptical of Tribunal Corruption

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
02 March 2009

Amid heavy allegations of corruption that are risking further funding for the joint UN-Cambodia Khmer Rouge tribunal, officials have now established a mechanism to tackle future charges. But in the eyes of some US observers, this procedure remains ambiguous and inadequate.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have struggled under allegations that staff paid kickbacks to work at the tribunal, as well as mismanagement, in what worried observers claim could jeopardize justice for the victims of the Khmer Rouge.

It took two meetings between the UN’s assistant secretary-general for legal affairs, Peter Taksoe-Jensen, and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who is in charge of the tribunal, to establish two parallel complaints procedures—one international, one local—for handling further allegations. The UN and Cambodia will meet again before March 23 to finalize the agreement, officials said.

However, John Hall, an associate professor at Chapman University of Law, in Orange, Calif., said he was not encouraged by the new mechanism.

“The choice before the tribunal is quite clear: to proceed with the trials without adequately addressing the allegations of corruption and political influence risks tainting the entire process and casting a shadow over the trials,” he told VOA Khmer in a telephone interview. “The people of Cambodia deserve more; they deserve a court operating to international standards.”

Hall said it was “hard to say” say whether the new procedures would help the tribunal gain credibility.

“This may be the best that the UN is able to negotiate with the Cambodian government at this point, and donors will have to decide whether this new mechanism, however flawed, is adequate enough to justify greater funding,” Hall said. “I think the donors are eager for the tribunal to proceed, so will be looking for a justification to fund the trials. Should they, without a better complaints mechanism? Probably not.”

Although Cambodian officials at the Extraordinary Chambers have denied corruption exists and say the Cambodian side will not fall short on funding, donors have proven hesitant to forward money for a process perceived as flawed.

Hall made four suggestions for improving the tribunal’s credibility.

“First, limit opportunities for political interference in judicial decision-making, specifically, be open to the possibility of investigating additional suspects, not limit the number to the five defendants already named,” he said. “Second, create an independent investigation mechanism for accusations of wrongdoing. Third, ensure that human rights monitors, NGOs and reporters will be allowed to keep their whistleblower sources confidential. And fourth, ensure adequate whistleblower protections for those reporting wrongdoing.”

Only five aging leaders of the regime are so far in custody—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Kaing Kev Iev—30 years after the fall of the regime.

Peter Maguire, author of "Facing Death in Cambodia," who has taught law and the theory of war, told VOA Khmer by telephone that the courts are operating under a shadow of doubt, thanks to a lack of transparency and basic budgetary accountability.

Meanwhile, continued delays could lead to the deaths of regime leaders before they go through trial, much like Slobodan Milosevic, the ex-Serbian leader who died in detention of a war crimes tribunal in 2006.

“If this court doesn’t move with a bit more urgency, they run the risk of becoming the Milosevic case No. 2,” Maguire said. “What good is procedural perfection if the defendants don’t live to see their trials? Perhaps that’s [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s objective. Only time will tell.”

Mounting costs are hampering the credibility of the courts, along with unanswered questions over corruption, he said.

“Those in charge of the Khmer Rouge tribunal have already blown giant holes in their budget, yet expect the international community to keep writing checks,” Maguire said. “Releasing the UN’s report on corruption would be a good start [to gaining credibility], but it is already too late. Corruption, nepotism and graft are common in Cambodia. Why should the Khmer Rouge tribunal be any different?”

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath declined to comment on the corruption issue, referring questions to Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, headed by Sok An.

“There have been four or five times for national and international inspection, but no evidence of corruption found,” Phay Siphan said. He also said the new procedures agreed on late last month will not impact the process of the courts, and he denied political interference in court proceedings.

The senior UN legal affairs official, Taksoe-Jensen, speaking by phone from New York following negotiations in Cambodia over corruption reporting, said there had been some misconception and criticism over the new mechanism, but he said the goal was to address corruption and keep the process moving forward.

The “bottom line,” he told VOA Khmer, was “to create a mechanism whereby all the members of the staff can put forward the complaint about corruption” without fear of retaliation from the court. “It’s up to the donors to decide when the situation has been established whereby funds can be sent to the court again.”

Tribunal Rules Revamped for Expediency

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
06 March 2009

More than two dozen internal rules for the Khmer Rouge tribunal were refined this week, further speeding tasks of the hybrid courts, officials announced Friday at the close of a biannual meeting.

In their fifth plenary session, judges and prosecutors decided on amendments to 27 of the internal rules of the court that “reflect efforts at harmonization,” in an effort “to streamline and expedite court proceedings,” the judicial officers said in a statement.

Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath said the amendments were important for improving tribunal proceedings.

“National and international judges and prosecutors passed the amendments in some of the internal rules to work on advancing the success of their work in the court in the upcoming period,” he said.

The jurists met amid lingering concerns the tribunal could see its funding disappear if donors do not contribute more. But that has been made difficult, with allegations of corruption and mismanagement still dogging the court, even as its first trial, for prison chief Kaing Kek Iev, approaches.

Lath Ky, a coordinator at the tribunal for the rights group Adhoc, told VOA Khmer the results of the meeting were not completely acceptable.

“There are some negatives,” he said. “According to the results of the amendments, the Khmer Rouge tribunal does not encourage the participation of civil parties in tribunal process. I am very concerned about the participation of the civil parties, which is likely restricted or reduced.”

The new rules will hasten the accreditation of investigators and the calling of witnesses, among other streamlining procedures, including improving appeals to the Supreme Court Chamber of the special court.

The officers were also briefed on the “trial management challenges” of having so many victims filing for court proceedings, the statement said.

The Sary Defense Team Changes the Format In Which It Communicates with the Public but Perserveres Despite the Strictures of the CIJs' Recent Order

Summary of Ieng Sary’s Appeal Against the OCIJ Order on Breach of Confidentiality of the
Judicial Investigation & Request for Expedited Filing Schedule and Public Oral Hearing, 10
March 2009
The Co-Investigating Judges issued its Order on Breach of Confidentiality of the Judicial Investigation on 3 March 2009. The Co-Lawyers for Mr. IENG Sary, Ang Udom and Michael G. Karnavas today filed an appeal against this Order as based on misconceptions, factual errors and flawed legal reasoning which drastically undermine the principle that “the applicable ECCC Law, Internal Rules, Practice Directions and Administrative Regulations shall be interpreted so as to […] ensure legal certainty and transparency of proceedings” (Internal Rule 21(1)).
Summary of arguments
The Defence Appeal was based on the following 4 main arguments:
1) The principle of publicity of judicial proceedings ensures that not every document filed before
the OCIJ is protected by the confidentiality of the judicial investigation;
2) Any allegedly confidential document posted on the Defence website was only confidential to
protect the rights of Mr. IENG Sary, rights which he may waive;
3) The letter warning the Defence team about its intention to produce its own website and publish its own filings does not constitute a decision, nor does it constitute a warning pursuant to Rule 38(1); and
4) The failure of the OCIJ and Pre-Trial Chamber to sanction their own repeated violations of their obligations of confidentiality displays discrimination in treatment between the Defence team and other organs of the ECCC.
Essence of submission
- The Co-Lawyers have, at all times, abided by the CPC and the Internal Rules of the ECCC.
- The Co-Lawyers have acted in accordance with their obligations as set out in Article 24 of the
Cambodian Code of Ethics the Co-Lawyers by making accessible to the public all of its submissions on behalf of Mr. IENG Sary which contain non-confidential information for the purpose of protecting and furthering Mr. IENG Sary’s constitutionally guaranteed fair trial rights.
- The Co-Lawyers request the Pre-Trial Chamber to grant the Defence’s Appeal Against the Order on Breach of Confidentiality of the Judicial Investigation, vacate the Order and permit the
Defence to maintain a website throughout the entirety of the ECCC proceedings which posts the
Defence team’s public filings before the ECCC together with any public decisions issued on those filings.
- The Co-Lawyers request an order for expedited filing by the parties and that it schedule a public oral hearing to be held on 3 April 2009 so that the issues concerning the confidentiality breach alleged by the OCIJ can be discussed freely, openly and transparently.

Monday, March 9, 2009

DSS Statement: 6 March, 2009

2-6 March 2009
Defence Support Section: Press Statement
1. The Defence Support Section (DSS) congratulates the judges for adopting a number of important amendments at this week’s Plenary. Both Cambodian and international judges have demonstrated a real determination to ensure that the ECCC functions fairly and efficiently. In particular, the judges have carefully balanced the desire to give civil parties a voice in the proceedings with the rights of the accused to a fair trial.
2. The DSS welcomes the statement by the international judges affirming their concern about unresolved allegations of corruption within the ECCC. This reinforces their position at the last
Plenary that kick-back allegations must be dealt with “fully and fairly […] and in a transparent
manner” and will be a comfort to all those who fear that the administration of justice within the
ECCC may fall prey to political compromise.
Richard J Rogers
Chief, Defence Support Section
6 March 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The "Offending Content" and Its Background

In their reply to the Co-Investigating Judges (CIJs)’ decision forbidding the distribution of some of the material of the defense's private website the defense lawyers for Ieng Sary indicated that pursuant to this decision they had removed three of their own motions from said website. It can be inferred from this statement that these motions are the manner in which the defense interpreted the CIJs’ “offending content” in their decision on the matter.
It is incidental to this inquiry that two out of three documents which fall into the category of the defense’s interpretation of “offending content” are defense motions which request additional information about two employees of the Office of Co-Investigating Judges (OCIJ), Stephen Heder and David Boyle.

It is important to understand why the defense spends the court’s time requesting such information. In the first of the series of such requests the Ieng Sary defense team pointed out that it was seeking information pertinent to any manifestation of opinion about the ECCC in general and their client in particular which may have been harbored by these officers at the time of their hiring by the ECCC. The defense further explicated that the statutory nature of the OCIJs is so that it brooks no tolerance for expressed bias of any kind. The defense therefore asserted that the determination of whether the officers in question pass the test of non-bias could only be made of the OCIJ disclosed information about their scholarly and otherwise publications.

Since these two officers came from very different backgrounds, it will perhaps be best to examine the appearance of bias they might have separately.

Dr. Stephen Heder is a Cambodia expert in long standing who has undertaken research on this country since 1973 as a journalist and later as a political scientist and a historian. Being one of the most notable political scientists on Cambodia, he has produced a wealth of commentary on the last forty years of Cambodian history with a heavy emphasis on the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) period. As the two articles which appear below on this page evince he has made a number of statements and participated in a number of activities which may not be interpreted as unbiased. However, should such biases have become the basis of disqualification (I am aware that the defense stressed that it merely requested information and has not moved to disqualify Heder yet; however, a potential motion for disqualification is the reason such information is sought in the first place) of Heder as an officer of the OCIJs, the CIJs would have had to compromise the quality of expertise brought to the OCIJ by Heder and settle for an expert of far less stature and knowledge of the facts of the DK regime. Therefore, in my opinion, this situation merits a balancing test between Heder’s bias in favor of the prosecution and the expertise he brings to the OCIJ.

Dr. David Boyle (it is not clear whether the defense’s reference to Boyle as “Mr.” is an oversight or an intent not to recognize his French doctorate in International Law) came to the ECCC with a set of skills far less irreplaceable than those of Heder. However, Boyle came to this tribunal with far fewer publications of controversial nature and none of Heder’s activism in bringing DK leaders and those most responsible to trial. The defense has accused Boyle of leaving it out of the proposed negotiations of the meaning of the ECCC Law (See “David Boyle on “Getting Together” below) which the defense argues shows bias. Ironically, one of the previous positions occupied by Boyle in institutions of international justice was that of a legal translator and legal assistant for the defense before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Considering the latter, a concern voiced by the Office of Co-Prosecutors (OCP) perhaps would have been more warranted than that of the defense.

Ultimately and in Heder and Boyle’s defense, it might be a formidable task to find a qualified expert on international criminal law, Cambodian criminal law, and the facts which surround the DK period, if the CIJs entertain the defense’s argument and agree to reserve employment with the OCIJs solely for those who have not made public pronouncements about the ECCC structure, the ECCC negotiating process, political and procedural issues associated with the creation of the ECCC, and the DK history, or otherwise have shown bias of one kind or another. It is already unfortunate that the Court has hired a number of experts with little or no knowledge of Cambodia or the DK period and questionable knowledge of Cambodian and international criminal law. The overall ECCC process will doubtless not benefit from the continuous hiring of such “experts” merely on the grounds of them having no paper trail which might show bias.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

David Boyle on "Getting Together"

In a pre-ECCC publication Boyle writes:

The case of Ieng Sary is an example of the problems that will arise before the Cambodian court Ieng Sary has been granted a constitutionally valid pardon and immunity for certain crimes and for prosecution under the 1994 law. To what extent is this constitutionally valid amnesty and pardon applicable before the Khmer Rouge trials? This has been left to the court to decide. All these questions will be raised by the defense, and should be dealt with beforehand in order to avoid that talented lawyers will slow trials down so much that three years will not be enough to finish. There are two possible avenues for partially resolving these issues. One would be for the judges immediately after having been nominated by the SCM to get together with prosecutors and investigating judges and work out exactly what is the applicable procedures for the courts. They cannot change the law, but they can work out what the law means.
(Boyle on the left)

Academics at Loggerheads (1995): Heder v Vickery



Phnom Penh Post, 3-16 November 1995, p. 16.


The war of the academics over the human rights record of subsequent regimes rages on. Here, Steven Heder counters Michael Vickery's views on history and historians.

I welcome this opportunity to respond to the rejoinder by Michael Vickery (PPP, Aug 11-24, 1995) to my review of Ben Kiernan's contributions to the monograph Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia, and thus to clarify a few of the historical, intellectual and moral issues the former has raised in this and other recent correspondence.

As readers will have noticed, Vickery believes that everything written about Cambodia that he thinks is true has been pirated from him, while imagining everything he thinks is false ultimately reflects the propaganda of the great powers, their proxies and their naive dupes. In fact, he seems to be losing touch with events and perhaps with reality as well. David Ashley was rightly surprised that Vickery was unfamiliar with the official publicity that surrounded the signing of political and military alliances between FUNCINPEC and the Cambodian People's Party in late 1991. It appears that Vickery has also not followed closely the contents of such core scholarly periodicals as the Journal of Asian Studies. If he were more up on such things, he would know that I published a review of all the contents of Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia there in 1994 (Volume 53, Number 3). Within the space limits imposed, I expressed my views on the scholarly debate about the extent of applicability of the legal concept of genocide to events in Cambodia between 1975 and 1978. Contrary to what Vickery suggests, my conclusion was that those like Kiernan who argue that there was a genocide against several categories of Cambodians are closer to being right than those like Vickery who believe the contrary.

I continue, as I have for many years, fully to support the principle of bringing to justice those responsible for political killings, torture and other gross violations of human rights in Cambodia and elsewhere, including those responsible for acts of genocide when the Communist Party of Kampuchea was in power. It was for this reason that from its conception I contributed as an advisor to the activities of the Cambodian Documentation Commission, the first human rights-oriented organization dedicated to application of the Genocide Convention to Cambodia, and the one which during the 1980s did the most to promote this goal among the public and with governments, inter-governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations all over the world. It was also for this reason that I was very pleased about the enactment by the United States Congress of the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act and the creation of an Office of Cambodian Genocide Investigations to submit relevant data to any properly constituted national or international penal tribunal that may be convened to formally hear and judge a case against those members of the former Communist Party of Kampuchea national political and military leadership accused of genocide in Cambodia. I have offered my full cooperation with the efforts of the Cambodian Genocide Program toward this end, and despite my clearly-stated differences with its Director Ben Kiernan on a variety of other issues, including his seriously flawed record with regard to human rights matters more generally, I am opposed to efforts to have his funding withdrawn. I believe that regardless of the views he held about the Communist Party of Kampuchea while it was in power, he should not be punished but rewarded for his desire to contribute by the means set forth in the Genocide Act to the Cambodian and United States commitment, enshrined in the human rights provisions of Paris Agreements, to "take effective measures to ensure that the policies and practices of the past shall never be allowed to return.". I still have hopes to see evidence that he is also prepared to contribute to other "special measures to assure protection of human rights" for which the Paris Agreements call in Cambodia in order more globally "to ensure respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms" there and "to support the right of all Cambodian citizens to undertake activities which would promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms".

I am not so optimistic about Vickery in this regard. To my knowledge, he has never supported or assisted the work of any bone fide human rights organization, Cambodian or international, that has been active in promoting the protection of human rights in Cambodia or elsewhere. Indeed, his clear record with regard to Cambodia is one of consistent objection to their activities. By his own admission, he rejects some of the most basic tenets of international human rights and humanitarian law, notably the concept of universal jurisdiction, according to which the perpetrators of the most serious human rights violations, such as political murder and torture, can legitimately be brought to justice anywhere.

Vickery denies that past United States Government employment should be used .as a criterion or analytic device in explaining why people understand Cambodian politics in the way that they do. As well he might, since he is the only American scholar of Cambodia who has a past as a United States intelligence operative. During his military service, he reportedly did counter-intelligence work aimed at the Soviet Union. Ironically, while the official American nature of his past employment appears to be not directly relevant to understanding his current worldview, his spy-catcher background does seem to have some explanatory value in this regard. Those familiar with the full corpus of his work cannot fail to be struck by the extent to which his mind-set is similar to that of the likes of James Jesus Angleton of the CIA and Peter Wright of MI5, who became obsessed with bizarre theories about the imagined conspiracies of the "moles" they suspected their political enemies had planted here, there and everywhere. His grotesquely ridiculous insinuations that, for example, the United States or those he believes are somehow its instruments ginned up violence against Khieu Samphan and Son Sen in 1991 or against FUNCINPEC in 1992 and 1993 in order to blame it on Hun Sen are on a par with the Angleton's and Wright's paranoid belief that the late British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson was a KGB spy who had risen to his post via the assassination of a fellow senior Labour figure. (Those interested in the phenomenon may wish to read Tom Mangold's Cold Warrior James Jesus Angleton: The CIA's Master Spy Hunter.) The problem with the cowardly and cryptic heavy hints that Vickery constantly drops about such matters is not, as he whines, that the evidence for his suspicions is not "firmly enough established for the requirements of an academic publication", but that it exists only in his mind. Vickery's poacher turned game-keeper transformation must also be understood in terms of the dilute Stalinist tradition of "history as conspiracy" that he appears to have increasingly mimicked in the course of his love affair with the People's Republic of Kampuchea and State of Cambodia. The justification that this political and intellectual tradition provides for human rights violations is well-known and rather well-illustrated by Vickery's case. (Those interested in this may want to take a look at Robert C Tucker's classic The Soviet Political Mind: Stalinism and Post-Stalin Change, or at William L O'Niel's A Better World, the Great Schism: Stalinism and the American Intellectuals.)

In an attempt to peddle one of his crackpot conspiracy theories, Vickery asserts that what he dubs the "special reports" about Cambodia on which I worked for Amnesty International were "in startling contrast" to its entries in its Annual Report about the country and "contrary to countries more favoured by the US regime". This is utter non-sense. First, I was just as responsible for the Annual Report entries as for the "special reports". Second, all the work I did on Cambodia for Amnesty International was written according to a mandate and to standards identical with that which was reflected in my work for the organization on other Asian countries, including Thailand, Burma, China, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Viet Nam, regardless of the configuration of their international relations. This is obvious from any serious examination of Amnesty International's mandate and standards and a comparison of all these works, which Vickery clearly has not attempted. It could be attested to by a wide variety of current and former Amnesty International officials with direct knowledge of my work, if he would take the proper historian's care to combine detailed documentary research with interviewing of primary sources. But while Vickery may be credited with practising his historian's craft in a professional manner in other areas, this is not one of them.

This is part of the reason why Vickery has so many facts (or insinuations) wrong. For example, Amnesty did not release its reports on Cambodia in the 1980s to coincide with intergovernmental or non-governmental meetings and thus as part of some sort of great-power plot aimed at the Phnom Penh government. The timing was dictated by production schedules and competing events, such as the urgent need to deal with torture of Cambodian refugees by military authorities in Thailand, which delayed the publication of Amnesty's most substantial account of human rights violations in the People's Republic of Kampuchea (Kampuchea: Political Imprisonment and Torture, June 1987). That report dealt in full with the 1986 decree-law on arrest (not, as Vickery mistakenly says, on criminal procedure), and it called for the effective implementation of those of the legislation's provisions incorporating human rights safeguards, while pointing out the many areas in which improvements were needed. Subsequent events have fully justified this approach, and the 1988 article to which Vickery refers was only one of several official recognitions that the provisions of the law were being violated. These People's Republic of Kampuchea admissions and new legal and other measures to remedy the human rights situation in Cambodia were described and welcomed in subsequent Amnesty International publications on which I worked, which also included recommendations for ways in which to make further improvements. (Those who are interested may look at, for example, "Cambodia: Recent Human Rights Developments", December 1990.)

A most important fact concerning Amnesty International about which Vickery appears to be totally ignorant is that its researchers and even the executive directors of its many national sections do not decide the organization's mandates or policies. It is not the kind of institution to which Vickery is attracted: that is, it is not one in which such decisions are imposed from above. Rather, it is a democratic movement with a membership and an elected representational structure in which policy-making power is invested. Researchers at its international secretariat and the national executive directors are like civil servants, employed to execute the decisions made by the representatives of the membership. Of course, individual members and employees do have personal views, and in some cases express them privately in non-Amnesty outlets, like newspapers. This is what William F Schulz has done in his 1994 article. However, it is absurd to suggest that Amnesty publications from the 1980s were out of line with organizational standards then because of the personal views of one Amnesty official now.

Equally fallacious is Vickery's insinuation that the "special reports" to which he refers were "biased misrepresentation of the human rights situation in Cambodia" because they did not highlight the historical circumstances in which violations were then being committed. He is unhappy that Amnesty did not concentrate on the excuse of circumstances to condone the abuses, as he like all typical apologists for repressive regimes invariably do. Of course, the real reason for Amnesty's stance in this regard was not bias, but the impartiality embodied in its principled stance that, as Vickery puts it, "human rights violations were human rights violations" and "standards were absolute". A corollary position, proclaimed at every opportunity by Amnesty, was its refusal to grade governments according to their record on human rights. Thus, instead of attempting comparisons it has concentrated on trying to end the specific violations of human rights in each case. In practice, what this means is trying always to come to the aid of today's victims, regardless of whether yesterday's government, neighbouring governments or current opposition groups are better or worse than the administration of the day. As a historian and a political actor, Vickery is free to disagree with this approach, to argue against it in print or even to join Amnesty International and put his case to experienced human rights advocates and campaigners. He may even be right.

However, I continue to think he is wrong and hope readers will ponder the moral deficiencies of his logic. According to his line of reasoning, no one should be concerned about human rights violations in today's Kingdom of Cambodia because despite all the defects and the badly deteriorating situation, there are still fewer cases of arbitrary detention of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners, of torture, of political killing and of death in detention than under any previous Cambodian political regime. To hell with the (relatively smaller if growing number of) victims! At least things are better than they were under the Khmer Rouge!

Finally, to return to Vickery's rejoinder to my review of Kiernan, he is wrong to maintain that Kiernan wrote mostly about genocide. Rather, he dealt mostly with broader political and international relations questions related to the Paris Agreements. Vickery tries to criticize me for agreeing with Kiernan on a number of fronts, but he is totally silent when it comes to confronting the most important planks of my argument: that Kiernan was mistaken to believe that the Paris Agreements were designed to favour the Partie of Democratic Kampuchea, and incorrect to maintain that through their implementation, it managed to make large-scale gains. Moreover, I did not say that Kiernan's review of David P Chandler was "thinly disguised", but that he tried to dress up a political smear tactic as sociology of knowledge. Kiernan did not simply assert the existence of an endemic "anti-Vietnamese bias" within Cambodian studies, but specifically accused Chandler of such prejudice and followed this with his tendentious remarks about the supposed effects of association with the United States Government. Readers may look at Kiernan's text to draw their own conclusions about what he was trying to say. (Readers may also wonder what sort of quantitative methods go into the dubious lament in Kiernan's review that "Cambodia studies" is "numerically dominated" by current and former government and United Nations officials and the similarly debatable claim by Vickery and others who signed the letter in the Post professing to vouch for Kiernan that they and their students constitute "the majority who publish in the field". Something seems not quite to add up.)

Steve Heder

London, United Kingdom


Interview with Steve Heder (2001) Bringing Justice to the Killing Fields

THE dour corridor of filing cabinets that Stephen Heder uses as an office at London's School of Oriental and African Studies might, on second thoughts, have been a better choice of venue for the interview.

Instead, we had opted for a bright yellow-walled cafe nestled in a side street near the British Museum. While fellow customers picked uneasily at lemon cakes and cappuccinos, Heder's flat American drawl described "smashings" - the Khmer Rouge's brutally uneuphemistic euphemism for political murder - and the death of two million people in the Cambodian killing fields.

Heder does not look like a hunter of mass murderers; more like a youngish Groucho Marx with lowered suspension, loping around Bloomsbury in a black leather jacket, blue jeans and motorcycle boots. This unlikely figure - the son of a dissident US army colonel who opposed the Vietnam war - knows the crimes of the Khmer Rouge in more nauseating forensic detail than anyone in the world.

If the old men responsible for killing a quarter of Cambodia's population between April 1975 and January 1979 are ever brought to justice, the case against them will rest largely on the hours Heder has spent in hot Cambodian reading rooms working through the paper trails left behind by their crimes.

Now working as a political scientist and lecturer on Cambodia at Soas, Heder has long outstayed his original assignment to the country as a budding war journalist in 1973. Fresh from an undergraduate degree at Cornell University in New York state, he pitched up in Phnom Penh in time to experience the terrifying last days of the pre-Khmer Rouge republic and the desperate hopes and fears of ordinary Cambodians about the kind of rule the Communists would bring when they came to power.

He left the US embassy on a helicopter as Pol Pot's men swept into town in 1975. Days later, he was attempting to sneak back into the country in a friend's plane (a ploy foiled when the DC-3 was grounded by the authorities at Bangkok airport). Ever since, as former colleagues in Phnom Penh's press pack have left their old stomping ground behind for more prestigious appointments and newer stories, Heder has kept returning to the country and the questions raised in those first dangerous steps of his career.

"Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ta Mok, Son Sen, Ieng Sary, Khieu Sary," he announces loudly to the cafe. "These names were a mystery to us before 1975. Bear in mind that the Communist Party denied its own existence until 1977, until two years after they took power. There were screens within screens, mirrors within mirrors. Even now, they have a slightly unreal ring to many people. The crimes have been well publicised, but it is difficult to imagine real people were responsible for them."

It is indeed hard not to doubt the reality of people responsible for death on so vast a scale. Hundreds of thousands were executed - probably half a million. More died because of starvation and disease directly caused by Khmer Rouge policies. Of the 17,000 people who passed through the gates of Tuol Sleng, the former secondary school used as the regime's main torture centre, seven survived. The official museum that now occupies the site describes newly born babies being smashed against trees to save the expense of a bullet, old men carried to torture because they could not walk, naked women shackled to beds and stung to death by specially reared scorpions. According to Heder, the sense of unreality surrounding these horrors reaches into the minds of their perpetrators. "You must understand that these men are operating according to a script," he says. "They feel no individual responsibility themselves." They became communists in the early 1950s and spent years in Paris, Vietnam and, Beijing reading Stalin and Mao, Heder says. What they found, in a somewhat rarefied form, was the message that at some stage in the revolution, it was necessary to go after the traitors within. They combined this with the idea, fed to them from Mao, that when problems occur in communism, the solution was more communism.

"When things start to go wrong, as they inevitably do, with their attempt to jump straight to full-blown communism, they go back to the script," Heder says. "The economy is not producing enough food for the people, which they are not prepared to admit because they have done everything theoretically right, so the policies must be being sabotaged by spies. They purge and they further weaken the party, and there are more problems, so they purge again."

He says it is an eerie experience meeting these people now. "They still sort of reimagine modern Cambodia as if it is mid-1940s Indo-China, with the Vietnamese substituted for the Japanese and the Americans as the French. I was totally persuaded that, although it is sheer fantasy, they are sincere. This is a world of imagination."

For most surviving members of the Khmer Rouge leadership, life since the disintegration of their guerrilla forces between 1996 and 1998 has been rather pleasant. Today, Brother Number Two Nuon Chea, the man primarily responsible for devising the killing machine, lives undisturbed in Cambodia. Khieu Samphan, a leading figure in the regime, is his neighbour. Ieng Sary, Pol Pot's brother in law who encouraged executions within his foreign ministry, was given an amnesty in 1996. Only Ta Mok, the brutal regional commander nicknamed "The Butcher", and Kaing Khek Iev, the warden of Tuol Sleng, are in custody.

Despite recent moves towards an international tribunal, Cambodia's government, led by the strongman Hun Sen, has a declared policy of ignoring the pasts of former Khmer Rouge leaders. While paying lip service to the idea of an internationally supervised trial, Hun Sen, a former junior Khmer Rouge cadre himself, has consistently obstructed progress on the grounds that his government must have control of the process.

The government must wish Heder had not returned to Cambodia in 1992. After his evacuation from Phnom Penh in 1975, he shelved journalism's shifting news agendas in favour of research on Cambodia at Cornell. Four years later, he was conducting interviews of thousands of refugees on the Thai-Cambodian border, trying to assess the human rights situation in the country after its invasion by Vietnam (this earned him his favourite boast: "I am in John Pilger's Heroes as a villain."). He was appointed an area specialist by Amnesty International, and he returned to Cambodia in 1992 to work as the UN peacekeeping mission's Khmer Rouge expert.

A stubbornly intellectual man, he has, when necessary, shown the same capacity for action that led him to Cambodia as a young graduate. In June 1997, he was the chief organiser of a daring attempt to smuggle out Pol Pot, who had just been detained by Ta Mok for the killing of Son Sen. Heder tried to work out an arrangement with Cambodian military officers to fly Pol Pot out of Cambodia and transfer him to a venue of universal jurisdiction. But Ta Mok could not be convinced to hand him over.

Pol Pot's death the following year put an end to hopes of a trial. But, if the lunge for Pol Pot was Heder's most dramatic move, his most significant has come in its aftermath, in three quiet years spent deciphering bureaucratic Khmer in the reading rooms of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia.

The product of that research, a 129-page report titled Seven Candidates for Prosecution: Accountability for the Crimes of the Khmer Rouge, co-authored by the human rights lawyer Brian Tittemore, was published in June. For the first time, it exposed Khmer Rouge leaders' individual guilt. It traced hundreds of individual communications between the leadership and subordinates and proved direct involvement of people at the highest level of the regime.

It reads as a legal case waiting to be put. After 20 years of obfuscation, fiction and evasion, Cambodia has the opportunity to confront its past and the reality of the old men who killed a quarter of a nation. Nearly half a year after its publication, however, a UN-Cambodian government agreement on where this evidence could be heard has not appeared.

Chris Bunting, Times Higher Education Supplement, December 2001

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Leaks at the Khmer Rouge Court: Co-Investigating Judges Call to Order

Posted by Cambodian NewsMarch 5, 2009

Co-investigating judges at the Khmer Rouge court have issued on Tuesday March 3rd an Order on Breach of Confidentiality of the Judicial Investigation following the publication by a Defence team of official documents on their website. The accused are the Defence lawyers for top Khmer Rouge diplomat Ieng Sary: Michael Karnavas, registered with the American Alaska State Bar, and his Cambodian colleague Ang Udom, who did not respect a decision of the judges and violated the court’s Internal Rules “by failing to act in accordance with the standards and ethics of the legal profession”. This judicial decision occurs after other leaks were revealed concerning confidential requests made by the co-lawyers for Nuon Chea.

Investigation “not to be conducted in public”
In a press release, the co-Investigating judges explain they ordered that the Defence Lawyers immediately cease to publish any document relating to the judicial investigation, other than those already published on the [ECCC web site Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (KR/EN/FR)], and remove any such documents from the Defence web site within 48 hours, or face sanctions for a new offence. At the same time the co-Investigating judges transmitted a copy of the order to the relevant professional associations and the ECCC Defence Support Section (DSS) for their consideration of appropriate action.
Magistrates remind that the decision was taken in accordance with Rule 56(1) of the Internal Rules of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which stipulates that“[i]n order to preserve the rights and interests of the parties, judicial investigations shall not be conducted in public. All persons participating in the judicial investigations shall maintain confidentiality”. The Internal Rules, they add, further stipulate that only the co-Investigating judges may “decide whether to disseminate information relating to a case under investigation or to authorise limited access to investigative acts to the media or third parties”.

Factual history
In their Order , judges You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde report that on December 3rd 2008, they reminded Defence teams of their obligations regarding confidentiality, after the publication of a newspaper article stating confidential information about the Nuon Chea case. Some ten days later, Ieng Sary’s lawyers mentioned to the co-Investigating judges their intention to “establish a website to provide access to all public (sic) filings submitted by the Ieng Sary Defence team”.

They continue, without mincing their words: “The current practice by the Judicial Chambers and co-Investigating judges at the ECCC, of suppressing Defence filings which may be embarrassing or which call into question the legitimacy and judiciousness of acts and decisions of the judges, all under the fig leaf that these are necessary measures to protect the supposed confidentiality and integrity of the investigation or judicial decision-making process, must be discontinued without exception. Submissions which are solely the work of the Defence team and which do not relate to the substance of the ongoing judicial investigation but relate solely to legal issues, must be debated under the watchful eye of the public.” otherwise, they concluded, this would deprive their client “of a fair and public trial” and Cambodia of “a demonstration of how complex trials for the most serious crimes can be conducted openly and transparently”.

The co-Investigating judges then notified Defence teams again that the confidentiality of the case file concerned all filings, including those drafted by the parties. But despite this rejection by the co-Investigating judges, the Defence team continued asserting that they were free to distribute case file material “at will”, thus justifying what they see as their right, with practices at the International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, when websites were used by the Defence Counsel to publicise their own filings. The co-Investigating judges detailed that on January 26th, the Defence proceeded to “post nine documents on their website, the publication of which had at no time been authorised by the judges”, consisting, among other documents, of a psychiatric examination of Ieng Sary. In their Order, the magistrates gave a pounding to the arguments of the Defence and stressed that the latter may not raise a lack of knowledge of the civil law system applicable before the ECCC, nor state its disagreement with the principle of confidentiality of the judicial investigation, in order to contest the force of perfectly clear provisions of the Internal Rules [...] or to be relieved of their professional obligations”. All the more so, they say, as the Defence could have requested that the co-Investigating judges publish a document, but they did not do so.

A promise to communicate more about activities
In their press release, the co-Investigating judges explain the “confidential” nature of the preparatory investigation stage, indispensable to the quality of the judicial process, particularly to guarantee the protection of privacy of those persons mentioned in the case file and the presumption of innocence, as well as to promote efficiency in investigations”. Noting that, in the Duch case, the investigation took less than a year - which, in view of the complexity of the case, cannot be seen as an excessive period” - they claim to be aware that confidential judicial investigations do not allow observers outside the tribunal “to be completely informed of the progress of the proceedings” and assure they will make every effort “to communicate more systematically about their activities in future, and will publish an increased number of documents with regard to the judicial investigation”.

A crackdown to stop leaks?
By way of this Order, it seems that the Investigating judges want to issue a public warning to those guilty of leaking information. At the beginning of the week, the two English-language daily newspapers, the Cambodia Daily and the Phnom Penh Post revealed confidential material from the court, which was leaked to them via an unsigned e-mail… A way of doing that has rarely, if not never, been observed in other international criminal courts.

Those filings, both newspapers say, concern requests sent to the tribunal by the Defence team for Nuon Chea, alias “Brother Number Two”, that prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate president Chea Sim, National Assembly president Heng Samrin and the King Father Norodom Sihanouk be heard before the court, in order to help investigators document the structure of the Khmer Rouge hierarchy. The disclosure, some say, comes in a timely way to distract attention from other issues, as the court is struggling with allegations of corruption among the Cambodian staff at the ECCC, which led the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) to freeze the payment of funds to the Cambodian side of the tribunal in the middle of last year.

The corruption accusations are allegedly said to have been confirmed by Knut Rosandhaug, Coordinator of the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials (UNAKRT) and deputy director of the ECCC Office of Administration, who was appointed to this position on June 1st 2008. The Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid Committee of the German Parliament’s also said that it agreed with the serious concern shown by the UN representative, in a report posted on its Internet website in November 2008 and quoting him quite a lot. That document was presented as a report of the meeting, a month earlier, between the German parliamentary delegation and Knut Rosandhaug. After the disclosure of the existence of the publicly accessible online report, by the Cambodian Daily in its edition dated February 26th, the Bundestag withdrew it from the website without a word… This blunder, what ever the veracity of the words – which, according to the report, Knut Rosandhaug allegedly pronounced – may be, put the latter in a much uncomfortable situation.

What sanctions do lawyers risk?
Rule 38 of the ECCC Internal Rules, regarding the “misconduct of a lawyer”, specifies that “the co-Investigating judges or the Chambers may, after a warning, impose sanctions against or refuse audience to a lawyer if, in their opinion, his or her conduct is considered offensive or abusive, obstructs the proceedings, amounts to abuse of process, or is otherwise contrary to Article 21(3) of the Agreement” and also that : the co-Investigating judges or the Chambers may also refer such misconduct to the appropriate professional body”, i.e. the Bars to which lawyers are registered, as well as the ECCC Defence Support Section (DSS).

The Ieng Sary Defense Team Strikes Back

Press Release in response to the Co-Investigating Judges’ Order on Breach of
Confidentiality dated 3 March 2009

It is with deep regret that we, the Co-Lawyers representing Mr. ING Sary before the
Extraordinary Chambers, feel compelled to respond to the allegations set out by the Co-Investigating Judges (“OCIJ”) in yesterday’s Order. A full, transparent and public response to this Order will be filed in due course but pending the filing of this response, we believe it is necessary to clarify some of the misconceptions, factual errors and the flawed legal reasoning of the OCIJ. However, in order to promptly comply with the OCIJ’s Order the Defence has temporarily removed from the website the allegedly “confidential” documents pending the confirmation by the OCIJ or Pre-Trial Chamber that these submissions are, in fact, public.
Despite the removal of these documents, the website will remain active and continue to provide access to those following proceedings at the ECCC to public documents filed by the Defence.
The specific documents removed are:
1) The appeal of Mr. IENG Sary against the refusal of the OCIJ to appoint a psychiatric expert dated 2 July 2008
2) The request for information regarding OCIJ Legal Officer David Boyle, dated 4 March
2008; and
3) The request for information regarding Stephen Heder, dated 30 January 2009.
As Mr. IENG Sary’s Co-Lawyers we will continue to act diligently to protect his interests throughout the continuing judicial investigation and possible future trial. It is extremely unfortunate that the OCIJ decided to wait until the Foreign Co-Lawyer for Mr. IENG Sary, Michael G. Karnavas, had just left Phnom Penh where he had been working for the preceding 8 days, rather than file the Order – or even discuss the matter – at a time when he was present and could effectively respond to these allegations. By filing this submission at the precise time that Mr. Karnavas was on a plane back to The Netherlands suggests that this timing was a tactical
decision by the OCIJ. The IENG Sary Defence will not shy away from making a small but
important contribution to public and transparent judicial proceedings at the ECCC: something which has not to date been the case. Nor will we give in to attempts, deliberate or inadvertent, to limit our right to speak out publicly to protect our client’s interests.
As a preliminary matter, the OCIJ appears to have taken exception to the Defence’s letter to the Deputy Director of Administration dated 18 December 2008 which the Defence had copied to the OCIJ. It should be noted at the outset that this letter was prompted not by any action of the OCIJ itself but by the Pre-Trial Chamber’s refusal to allow the Defence to make a judicial record in the Duch case of its objections to the application of joint criminal enterprise liability at the ECCC.
By contrast, the OCIJ had accepted and admitted to the case file supplementary observations on this issue filed by the Defence several weeks prior to the letter, albeit after a considerable delay.
As to the filings posted by the Defence on its website which the OCIJ claimed had breached “the confidentiality of the investigation”, only one has actually been declared to be confidential by either the Pre-Trial Chamber or OCIJ. This document concerned a Defence Appeal of the OCIJ’s constructive dismissal – caused by its abject failure to respond – of a Defence request for Mr.IENG Sary to be examined by a psychiatric expert. It has seemingly been deemed confidential by the Pre-Trial Chamber because it concerned health issues affecting Mr. IENG Sary. Yet, this
is notwithstanding the fact that Mr. IENG Sary provided a waiver allowing this Appeal to be made public and that this very issue was debated extensively in public session before the Pre-Trial Chamber on 30 June 2008. It appears, therefore, that a decision made by the Pre-Trial Chamber to protect the rights of Mr. IENG Sary is being manipulated y the OCIJ in order to sanction his very Co-Lawyers who are trying to protect these rights.
The remaining two filings involving potential conflicts of interest on the part of OCIJ investigators were filed as public documents and appear to have been notified as public by the Court Management Section. No decision by the OCIJ changing this status has been filed.
Furthermore, the appeal of the OCIJ’s decision relating to “Legal Officer” David Boyle appears on the ECCC website and contains exactly the same information and arguments as the submission which was filed before the OCIJ. Finally, it is ironic that the OCIJ’s Order sanctioning the Co-Lawyers for Mr. IENG Sary was considered to be public even though it made extensive reference to elements of the investigation which were allegedly confidential. This contradictory standard clearly undermines the position of the OCIJ that the entire investigation is confidential and strongly implies that the OCIJ’s Order is based more on the fear of being unable to control the submissions of the Defence than any alleged fear of breaches of confidentiality.
Indeed it is telling that in its press release yesterday the OCIJ confirmed that “the Co-Investigating Judges will communicate more systematically about their activities in future, and will publish an increased number of documents with regard to the judicial investigation.” This is a clear admission of the lack of transparency in the OCIJ’s investigation thus far.
Ang Udom & Michael G. Karnavas
Co-Lawyers for Mr. IENG Sary
Phnom Penh, 4 March 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sources and Justifications of the Acrimony Between Ieng Sary’s Co-Lawyers and the Co-Investigating Judges

The several heated exchanges between the Co-Lawyers (‘CLs’) for Ieng Sary and the Co-Investigating Judges (‘CIJs’) on the subject of the CLs’ web-publication of their motions have resulted in this dispute boiling over into the public domain.

The essence of the dispute is simple: until today the CLs have operated under the assumption that they owned their own motions and can therefore dispose of them in any way they pleased; the CIJs, conversely, believe that such motions are a part of the judicial investigations undertaken by them and therefore confidential.

Following a few gentle reminders to the CLs the situation escalated when the CIJs realized that their communications on the matter were being ignored (the CIJs allude to this in their public statement where they note “that, while a judicial decision can always be contested by exercising the avenues of recourse prescribed by law, it cannot simply be ignored”; the CIJ’s further use the “had you come to us first” language to indicate their past willingness to discuss the possibility of publication of some documents of the CLs on their website which is evidenced in “with a view to transparency, the defense could have requested that the Co-Investigating Judges publish a document if they believed that such publication was necessary for the public to gain a full understanding of the judicial proceedings”(Order, para. 14). Since instead of opting for the course of negotiating the publication of individual documents with the CIJs the defense sought the support of the Deputy Director of the Office of Administration, the action deeply chagrined by the CIJs.

From that point onwards, the CLs and the CIJs began a jabbing campaign which further escalated the dispute. Throughout this campaign a number of indecorous statements have been made by the both parties: the CLs accused the CIJs of being apprehensive of the public finding out about the alleged lack of legitimacy and judiciousness in the CIJs’ decisions; the CLs referred to the argument put forward by the CIJs’ as “a fig leaf” for the purported necessity for proper judicial investigations; the CIJs retorted with the alleged self-admitted incompetence of the defense of the workings of the system of civil law (I am not aware if the defense has ever made such explicit statement or whether this is the sum total of the CLs’ behavior, as perceived by the CIJs, and the fact that the International Co-Lawyer and the Team’s Legal Consultant come from common law jurisdictions (Alaska and New York); the CIJs further slammed the CLs for the perceived inability to read the Internal Rules (‘IRs’) which the CIJs maintain contain “perfectly clear provisions” which regulate the matter of the dispute.

The foregoing acrimony aside, the question remains – who’s got the upper hand in this dispute?

The CIJs’ most recent decision on the matter is reasoned but by no means flawless. The major shortcoming of this decision, in my opinion, lies in the fact that although the CIJs hinged their entire argument on the rule of the IRs that “all persons participating in judicial investigations shall maintain confidentiality”, the CIJs fail to point out the rule(s) of the IRs that define such participation. This leaves the question of whether all organs of the ECCC are subject to such confidentiality rule insofar as the judicial investigations are in progress (would this also apply to the administrative apparatus of the Office of Administration and the documentation they produce which is purely of administrative nature?) unanswered. With this question in limbo it is difficult to appreciate the remainder of the merits of the CIJs’ argument.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Opening Statement of the Impugned Website

Mr. IENG Sary's Defence Team before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

This website has been created and is operated by the Defence team representing Mr. IENG Sary before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The justification and rationale for this website is set out in a letter from the Co-Lawyers in the Defence team to the Director and Deputy Director of Administration at the ECCC. The Defence team will endeavour to regularly update the site with all public filings that the Defence generates so that the complex proceedings are as transparent as possible.

"...the current practice by the Judicial Chambers and Co-Investigating Judges at the ECCC, of suppressing Defence filings which may be embarrassing or which call into question the legitimacy and judiciousness of acts and decisions of the judges, all under the fig leaf that these are necessary measures to protect the supposed confidentiality and integrity of the investigation or judicial decision-making process, must be discontinued without exception. Submissions which are solely the work of the Defence team and which do not relate to the substance of the ongoing judicial investigation but relate solely to legal issues, must be debated under the watchful eye of the public. To allow non-confidential issues to be debated behind closed doors not only deprives Mr. IENG Sary of a fair and public trial but also deprives Cambodia of a demonstration of how complex trials for the most serious crimes can be conducted openly and transparently.”

Letter from Michael G. Karnavas and Ang Udom to the ECCC Director of Administration, 18 December 2008.

The URL of the Ieng Sary Defense Team's Website

Cambodia: Genocide Court Censures Defense Lawyers

Foreign 2009-03-04 10:05

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: Fresh controversy broke out Tuesday (3 March) at Cambodia's genocide tribunal when judges censured two defense lawyers for posting what they said were confidential court documents on a Web site.

The U.N.-assisted tribunal said the lawyers posted the documents _ legal requests and appeals to the court _ on a legal Web site for their Khmer Rouge client despite repeated warnings not to.

The tribunal is seeking to establish responsibility for an estimated 1.7 million deaths during the brutal 1975-79 rule of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge.

Lawyers Michael Karnavas of the U.S. and Ang Udom of Cambodia were accused of breaching court rules "by revealing confidential information," and "failing to act in accordance with the standards and ethics of the legal profession," according to a court order.

The tribunal demanded the lawyers remove the documents within 48 hours and said its six-page order would be sent to bar associations to which the lawyers belong for "any appropriate action."

Karnavas, who with his partner represents former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, denied doing anything wrong in an e-mailed statement, but said they would remove the documents "until such time as this matter is sorted out."

"We have no intention to compromise or interfere with the investigation," Karnavas said. "We will however continue to press for a more accountable, responsive and transparent process."

The tribunal has been beset by controversy, mostly involving allegations of corruption and political interference.

The first trial, scheduled to begin 30 March, is for 65-year-old Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, who headed the Khmer Rouge's largest torture center. It starts nearly three years after the court was established. (AP)

Cambodia Khmer Rouge Defense Warned Over Website

The defence team of a Khmer Rouge leader has been ordered to remove confidential documents from Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court from a website, the tribunal's investigating judges said Tuesday.

Lawyers for former foreign minister Ieng Sary "face sanctions" if they do not remove all documents relating to judicial investigations within 48 hours, the court's co-investigating judges said in a press statement.

Ieng Sary, 83, is one of five leaders from the late 1970s regime charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, but details of the investigation ahead of his trial are kept confidential.

Investigating judges said they needed "to guarantee the protection of privacy of those persons mentioned in the case file and the presumption of innocence, as well as to promote efficiency in investigations."

But the website containing defence filings and letters has also posted a letter to court officials saying that no documents on the site relate to the current investigation of Ieng Sary.

The letter by defence lawyers Michael Karnavas and Ang Udom goes on to allege that judges suppress filings "which may be embarrassing or which call into question the legitimacy and judiciousness of acts and decisions."

Ieng Sary has been rushed to hospital nine times since he was detained by the court in November 2007, and last week had an appeal for release from the Khmer Rouge court delayed after he said he was too ill to appear in court.

As the top Khmer Rouge diplomat, Ieng Sary was frequently the only point of contact between Cambodia's secretive communist rulers and the outside world.

He has denied any involvement in atrocities but he was one of the biggest public supporters of the regime's mass purges, researchers say.

Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed, as the 1975-1979 regime emptied Cambodia's cities in its drive to create a communist utopia.

The long-awaited first Khmer Rouge trial started last month when the regime's notorious prison chief, Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, went before the court.

© 2009 AFP