Although the government agreed this week to take “relevant steps” to overcome an impasse over two controversial cases at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, officials refused to elaborate on what concrete actions this would entail.
The offer to take “steps” was made at a meeting on Tuesday between Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Stephen Mathias, the U.N.’s assistant secretary-general for legal affairs, during which the two men discussed what they characterized as a “difference of view” about the cases. U.N. staff at the tribunal have been trying for years to pursue the two in the face of obstruction or indifference from Cambodian court staff and the government.
“The parties discussed an ongoing difference of view, as set out in diplomatic correspondence between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, regarding the full implementation of the cooperation obligations set out in the ECCC Agreement with respect to the two Cases currently under judicial investigation,” said a statement issued after the meeting.
“The parties agreed on the importance of a fully satisfactory solution being reached as soon as possible, consistent with the terms of the Agreement, and that relevant steps will be taken by the Royal Government to this end,” it said.
However, contacted over the past two days, government and U.N. officials declined to give details on what the government would do to help find a solution.
“I’m sorry, I cannot give any more information than is in the statement,” said Ek Tha, a government spokesman with the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit.
David Scheffer, the U.N.’s special expert on the tribunal; Lars Olsen, the spokesman for the U.N. side of the court; and Neth Pheaktra, the spokesman for the Cambodian side, also declined to comment further on the joint statement.
The two disputed cases, known as 003 and 004, are currently being investigated by the U.N. investigating judge at the court, but Cambodian police have refused to execute court warrants issued last year for suspects Meas Muth and Im Chaem, saying that they would wait to do a survey of public opinion before making any arrests.
Mao Chandara, the head of security for the tribunal and a general in the Cambodian National Police, said on Thursday that a report on the survey was still not finished and he had no idea when it would be.
“I have not yet received any report,” he said. “Maybe they are not yet finished. If they finish it, they will send the report to me.”
(Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)