A second arrest warrant for former Khmer Rouge navy commander Meas Muth was ignored by judicial police last month, a declassified document released Monday by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) shows.
Meas Muth was charged in absentia with crimes against humanity and war crimes in March. Khmer Rouge district chief Im Chaem was also charged with crimes against humanity. The failure of the government and the U.N. to arrest the former officials after warrants were issued for them last year forced Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon to issue charges in absentia.
A second attempt by Judge Harmon to impel the judicial police to arrest Meas Muth—who stands accused of killing both his own soldiers and foreigners captured at sea—went unheeded last month, as the newly released warrant dated June 5 illustrates.
“The Judicial Police shall bring Meas Muth before the International Co-Investigating Judge for an adversarial hearing to consider the issuance of an order for provisional detention pursuant to Rule 63,” the warrant says.
It states that if Meas Muth cannot be brought before Judge Harmon immediately, he should be placed in temporary detention, “wherever possible in the detention facility of the ECCC, and presented to the International Co-Investigating Judge as soon as possible.”
Despite the public release of the arrest warrant dated more than a month ago, Mao Chandara, chief of security at the ECCC, claimed he had still not received it and that judicial police were “studying security issues” in areas surrounding the homes of Meas Muth and Im Cheam.
“I have not yet received the arrest warrant,” Mr. Chandara said.
“It doesn’t mean we have not implemented it but we are studying security issues and the opinion of villagers,” he said, declining to comment further and directing further questions to the ECCC.
Asked about Mr. Chandara’s claim that he had not received the arrest warrant, tribunal spokesman Lars Olsen said the warrant “speaks for itself” and declined to comment further.
Despite criticizing Judge Harmon in March over his decision to charge the former navy chief in absentia, Panhavuth Long, a court monitor with the Cambodia Justice Initiative, on Monday praised him for continuing his efforts in the face of non-cooperation on the part of the judicial police.
“This is clearly a violation of the agreement, and I would like to congratulate Judge Harmon for his positive steps of being honest about the issue, and I think the donors and the U.N. need to address the core issue, which is the government failing to comply with the agreement,” he said.
Mr. Long also called on the U.N. and the tribunal’s donors to be more outspoken about government interference in cases 003 and 004.
“If enough is enough, they need to say so and…if they cannot ensure the international standard they need to be honest,” Mr. Long said.
“They need to tell the public about the issue. They need to be honest with the victims, instead of covering up, instead of addressing in the way of window dressing,” he added.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has been outspoken in his opposition to the ECCC expanding its scope beyond the second phase of Case 002, in which Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are currently on trial for crimes including genocide.
Both were sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity in August and are awaiting the outcome of their appeal.
After being charged in March, Meas Muth, who maintains his innocence, claimed he was more “concerned with planting my corn and cassava” than the actions of the tribunal.