Prosecutors at ECCC Submit 5 Suspects’ Names

The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s co-prosecutors on Wednesday made their first introductory submissions to the co-investigating judges and forwarded them the names of five suspects who they say should stand trial.

In a statement released late Wed­nesday, co-Prosecutors Chea Leang and Robert Petit said they have identified five suspects involv­ed in crimes against humanity, gen­ocide, grave breaches of the Gen­eva Convention, homicide, torture and religious persecution.

“These crimes were committed as part of a common criminal plan constituting a systematic and un­lawful denial of basic rights of the Cambodian population and the targeted persecution of specific groups,” the co-prosecutors said.

“The purported motive of this common criminal plan was to effect a radical change of Cambodian so­ciety along ideological lines. Those responsible for these crimes and policies included senior leaders of the Democratic Kampuchea re­gime,” their statement added.

No suspects were named by the co-prosecutors.

Under civil law, introductory submissions are considered confidential. The co-prosecutors said they had decided to make a public statement due to the “extraordinary nature of this court and the need to ensure that the public is duly informed of the ongoing proceedings.”

Petit said it was now up to the co-investigating judges to decide when to release the names of the suspects.

“It doesn’t make sense to tell someone you’re coming to arrest them,” Petit added.

Arrests, he said, would likely be made when the investigating jud­ges are ready to charge a suspect.

Chea Leang could not be reach­ed for comment.

Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde said that it was too early to say when the names of potential defendants might be revealed.

“I will have to read first and then make a strategic decision later,” he said, declining further comment. “I’ve got a lot to read,” he said.

The co-prosecutors said they had submitted evidence of 25 distinct situations of murder, torture, forcible transfer, unlawful detention, forced labor and religious, political and ethnic persecution.

They said they transmitted more than 14,000 pages of supporting material to the co-investigating judges, including records from over 350 witnesses, a list of 40 other potential witnesses, thousands of pages of Democrat­ic Kampuchea-era documentation and the locations of over 40 undisturbed mass graves. Much of the evidence, the co-prosecutors said, was gathered with the help of the Documentation Cen­ter of Cambodia.

Petit and Chea Leang said their introductory submissions were based on several months of preliminary investigation conducted with the help of the Cambodian national police.

Now, the co-investigating judges must investigate the cases presented by the co-prosecutors and de­cide whom to charge. Petit de­clined to speculate on when a trial might commence.

“I hope a lot of Cambodian people at least feel something important has happened towards some justice,” Petit said.

“Especially all the national staff here from interns up to the co-prosecutors, they’ve taken part in something historic in their country’s destiny,” he said.

Petit added that he was happy he had been allowed to participate.

“This is the beginning of what promises to be a long and complicated process. These cases are nev­er easy.”

The tribunal’s eight-cell detention facility will be fully ready for occupancy today, when an ambulance and on-site doctor and nurse are scheduled to arrive, Helen Jarvis, public affairs chief for the Ex­traordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, said Wednes­day. She added that food service—three “nutritionally adequate” meals a day—would also be ready today.

Tribunal officials handed over the keys for the facility to the Min­istry of Interior during a ceremony Wednesday at 3 pm, which was closed to the press.

Kuy Bunsorn, deputy general director of the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Prisons, took the keys on behalf of the government, according to a Wednesday statement from the ECCC. Kuy Bun­sorn said that the detention facility would be overseen by a team of 15 unarmed guards.

The government is responsible for managing detainees, according to its 2003 agreement with the UN, which established the basis for the tribunal, and a 2006 supplementary agreement on safety and security.

The facility was built with $79,000 from India. Jarvis said that a $45,000 initial detention center, built with Japanese funds, would be incorporated into the detention complex, but that details on its use remained unclear.

Each cell has its own toilet, and there are communal showers and laundry facilities, as well as a visitor’s room and a 15-by-6-meter exercise yard, Jarvis said.

She added that the Internation­al Committee of the Red Cross had been consulted on the de­sign, and steps had been taken to ensure ad­equate ventilation, light and sanitation.

    (Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul and Yun Samean)

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