Government-Opposed KRT Investigation Proceeds

Khmer Rouge tribunal International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon is continuing to push ahead with the cases known as 003 and 004, signing off on the accreditation of two more civil party lawyers who will join the investigations, which the government says should not proceed.

The two accreditation documents, which were signed by Judge Harmon on Monday and made public on Friday, recognize lawyers Kong Phallack and Mahdev Mohan to represent civil parties in both cases and gives them access to the case files.

Empowering the two lawyers is the latest in a number of moves Judge Harmon has made on his own to advance the investigations of the two cases, which his national counterpart, Investigating Judge You Bunleng, has said he will not investigate further.

As of June 19, the court’s records show that there have been a total of 1,131 applications for civil party status between cases 003 and 004.

Thirteen people have applied solely for Case 003, 802 people have applied for Case 004 and 316 people are seeking recognition as civil parties in both cases.

Judge Harmon has also urged witnesses to come forward if they have information relating to the cases.

But while the investigation of cases 003 and 004 press on, the war crimes court is facing a growing funding problem. The first of several “mini-trials” in Case 002 are still ongoing but the court does not have the money to pay its national staff, 10 percent of whom, some 30 people, did not have their work contracts renewed on July 1.

Progress in cases 003 and 004 is also hindered by the advancing age of suspects.

Case 003 suspect Sou Met, the former chief of the Khmer Rouge air force, died last month, leaving former Khmer Rouge military commander Meas Muth the sole suspect in that case. There are also three aging suspects in Case 004—Ta An, Ta Tith and Im Chaem.

Panhavuth Long, a program officer with the Cambodian Justice Initiative, said the recognition of the two lawyers is “a good sign,” but “a minimal development.”

“Is the investigation [of cases 003 and 004] credible and have the rights, of the suspects been respected? Mr. Long asked.

“The death of Sou Met and Ieng Sary, [and] Ieng Thirith being declared unfit to stand trial, funding issues—[it is] in the best interest of the public and victims to know what is going on with cases 003 and 004,” he said.

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