The ECCC Begins Winding Down: In Cambodia, a Hybrid Tribunal’s Hybrid Legacy

On Sep. 22, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) rendered the summary of its last substantive judgment in Case 002/02 – its most complex and second case to date – against Kheiu Samphan, the former Head of State of Democratic Kampuchea.

Case 002/02 is also ECCC’s last case and while it is important in its own right (and will be the subject of its own article, forthcoming), this article addresses the decision(s) by the ECCC to drop the prosecution of the remaining suspects in Cases 003 and 004. Thus, the Supreme Court Chamber’s (SCC) Appeal Judgment in Case 002/02 signals the end of the ECCC’s prosecution of those responsible for the crimes committed during the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge rule when one-fifth of Cambodia’s population (almost 2 million people) perished.

Besides Cases 001 and 002, the ECCC in its early stages envisioned at least two more cases: Cases 003 and 004. However, the procedural impasse at the Chambers, stimulated by domestic politics and played out through the tactics of ECCC’s national component, brought 13 years of investigations and procedure in Cases 003 and 004 – kept alive mainly due to ECCC’s default mechanism (see Judge Maureen Harding Clark, dissenting opinion, para. 8) – to an (unjust and unjustifiable) dead end: termination in “the absence of a definite and enforceable indictment.”

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