The Khmer Rouge tribunal said yesterday that all remaining preliminary appeals had been decided in the court’s second case against former leaders of the Democratic Kampuchea regime, meaning that the 352,000-page case file can now be referred to prosecutors for review and comment.
“In a very short time, the Office of Co-Investigating Judges will send the case file to the Office of the Co-Prosecutors for the final submission,” said Lars Olsen, the court’s legal communications officer.
“We are now nearing the final stages before there will be a closing order,” he said, referring to the decision expected in September by the investigating judges on whether to indict or release the court’s five current detainees.
It was unclear how soon the case file could be transferred to the prosecution. However, the tribunal’s prosecutors will have 45 days to submit pleadings to argue for indictments and specific charges as well as modes of liability and interpretations of evidence.
Sunday will mark three years since prosecutors opened a judicial investigation, accusing five suspects who have since been arrested of jointly carrying out a criminal plan for the ideological transformation of Cambodian society and in the process committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture.
They also identified 40 undisturbed mass graves and 25 instances of alleged murder, torture, forcible transfer, unlawful detention, forced labor and religious, ethnic and political persecution, all of which allegedly caused the deaths of as many as 2.2 million people.
The Co-Investigating Judges in September 2007 separated the Tuol Sleng investigation, case 001, from the larger case 002 for the investigation into crimes alleged to have occurred nationwide under the senior leadership of the Khmer Rouge.
Mr Olsen said yesterday that 25 appeals lodged by prosecutors, defense teams and civil parties had now been decided by the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber relating to the closure in January of investigations in case 002.
Case 002 has come to a raucous close, with defense teams demanding the witness testimony of retired King Norodom Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen as well as six senior CPP members who have disregarded court summonses.
Defense teams have also sought the disqualification of both of the court’s co-investigating judges and said senior Cambodian officials should be investigated for contempt of court because their public remarks could have caused some witnesses not to cooperate with the tribunal.
It was not known yesterday how soon the Pre-Trial Chamber’s judgments in remaining matters would be published, according to Mr Olsen.