Defendant Must Appear Once for KR Trial To Proceed

The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s rules committee has tentatively agreed that trials will be permitted if a defendant appears in court at least once, and that victims can participate as civil parties to the court, sources close to the tribunal said Tuesday.

By the end of its two-week deliberations Friday, the nine Cam­bodian and international judges on the rules committee had agreed in principle that if a defendant appears in court once or more, a trial may proceed, three people close to the court said on condition of anonymity.

In addition, the committee has tentatively agreed that victims will be allowed to file claims as civil parties to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cam­bodia, but financial compensation has been ruled out, another person close to the court said.

Helen Jarvis, the ECCC’s chief of public affairs, declined comment Tuesday on the question of trials in absentia and the participation of civil parties, and said she could not comment further on the rules committee’s discussions.

The committee failed to reach a final agreement on the rules Friday, and will meet to continue its negotiations in March.

Several international legal experts Tuesday said the provisional agreements are consistent with international legal norms.

But Kek Galabru, president of local rights group Licadho, said there needs to be assurance that defendants spend more than one day in the dock.

“Why only one time? They should come all the time,” she said.

The conditions under which a defendant might be allowed to leave the courtroom after a single appearance remain unclear.

“The only way this would be a pro­blem is if they brought someone to trial but didn’t arrest them and the person fled,” one legal ob­ser­ver said on condition of anony­mi­ty.

Local rights group Adhoc, among others, has argued that permitting individual victims to file civil claims will add to the breadth of the trial.

Youk Chang, director of the Documentation Center of Cam­bodia, said compensating individuals for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge was “impossible,” but urged the court to examine the assets of the regime’s former leaders.

“There’s so much money that has been routed to the Khmer Rouge, by China, for example,” he said.

“If those assets can be located and used for a public monument it could be beneficial.”


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