The Khmer Rouge tribunal announced on Friday that the judicial investigation into the slew of crimes allegedly committed by former Khmer Rouge district chief Im Chaem had concluded, bringing the possibility of an indictment one step closer.
The announcement comes more than six years after the investigation was opened and represents a key sign of progress in the government-opposed case, paving the way for the court’s international co-investigating judge to either issue an indictment or dismiss the charges.
“If no parties request further investigative action within 15 days, the case file will be forwarded to the co-prosecutors so that they can make a final submission,” said Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the tribunal.
“After they receive the final submission, the co-investigating judges will prepare a closing order, eiher sending the case for trial or dismissing the case,” he said.
In March, Im Chaem was charged in absentia in Case 004 with crimes against humanity—including murder, enslavement, imprisonment and other inhumane acts—and homicide allegedly committed at the Phnom Trayoung security center and the Spean Sreng worksite in Banteay Meanchey province, where the suspect was a district chief during the Khmer Rouge regime.
She is the only accused person in the tribunal’s two government-opposed cases, 003 and 004, not to have been charged before a judge.
Suspects Ao An, Yim Tith and Meas Muth have all met with either former Investigating Judge Mark Harmon or his successor, Judge Michael Bohlander, this year to be formally charged.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has publicly criticized the tribunal’s decision to pursue cases 003 and 004 on several occasions, warning that an expansion of the tribunal’s scope beyond Case 002—against “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan—could plunge Cambodia into a bloody civil war.
The judicial investigation into Im Chaem is the first in the disputed cases to reach a conclusion.