Tribunal’s Cayley Tries to Remedy a Wrong Against Khmer Krom

romlech commune, Pursat pro­vince – On his first visit here last year, the Khmer Rouge tribu­nal’s British co-prosecutor An­drew Cayley promised Khmer Krom victims of the Pol Pot re­gime that he would do everything in his power to have their voices heard in court.

Yesterday, Mr Cayley re­turned to Romlech commune—where hundreds of Khmer Krom were ex­ecuted due to their ethnicity—having kept his promise. In June, he formally asked co-investigating judges to investigate crimes committed against the Khmer Krom in areas like this one.

“It’s fair to say I’ve done as much as I can,” Mr Cayley said in an interview prior to the outreach event.

The chance of any Khmer Rouge figures ever being charged with genocide against the ethnic group now hangs on his request for further investigation in the court’s fourth and final case, which is strongly opposed by the government.

“The Case 004 scenario…ad­dresses very much the gap that was in the second case that they [the Khmer Krom] are so angry about,” said Mr Cayley.

Yet, hope of the court finally in­vestigating the crimes committed against the Khmer Krom in Pursat and Takeo provinces will be lost if, as is likely, cases 003 and 004 are dropped by investigating judges in the face of government opposition.

The four senior leaders currently on trial in Case 002 do not face the charge of genocide against the Khmer Krom due to a technicality: Prosecutors did not correctly name a document they filed to expand the scope of investigation in that case.

“For the Khmer Krom, it is crucial that these cases be heard, as unlike Case 002, they promise the prospect of evidence of their persecution by the Khmer Rouge be considered in the context of their identities as Khmers who were mistaken, corralled and eliminated for having ‘Viet­namese minds,’” said a statement released on Wednesday by Ac­cess to Jus­tice, an organization headed by civil party lawyer Mahdev Mo­han, who represents Khmer Krom victims.

During yesterday’s event, organized by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, victims put questions to Mr Cayley about all four cases at the tribunal. In addition, DC-Cam showed a documentary, “Mass Grave Near Pa­goda” by Ratanak Leng, and distributed textbooks.

Peou Sinoun, 53, who was ac­cepted by the court as a civil party on grounds unrelated to her persecution as a Khmer Krom, said after the event that she remained disappointed that her severe suffering and that of her fellow villagers had not yet been made clear in the court and in history books. She says she lost about 100 members of her extended family during the regime.

“Last year, the court agreed that the Khmer Krom suffered and were killed, but it has not yet been put in the historical re­cord,” she said.

Chin Sokhom, 45, said that about 20 of his Khmer Krom relatives were taken to be killed in July 1978, but he escaped by staying with his Khmer Chinese mother. “The Pol Pot regime killed the Khmer Krom because they supposed the Khmer Krom were a Vietnamese group. In fact, Khmer Krom is still Khmer,” he said, noting that the court was bringing justice. “Even if they drop Case [004], it’s fair enough because they have done enough already.”

The Access to Justice statement said that more than 100 Khmer Krom civil parties in Case 002 have made written requests to resubmit their applications for the next two cases. “Our clients have been kept in the dark about their status in these cases,” it said.

Mr Cayley has pressed the co-investigating judges to release more information about cases 003 and 004 to the public.

“I believe the population has a right to know, but also how can you participate as civil parties if you don’t know what the case is about?” he said. “I am certainly doing everything I can to keep these cases alive.”

 

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