The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s international co-investigating judge is seeking pro-bono legal experts to assist investigations into cases 003 and 004, which must wrap up this year, according to a request from the U.N.’s special expert on the court, David Scheffer.
In an email obtained Thursday, Mr. Scheffer says that International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon “requires additional legal assistance immediately” from a criminal investigator, a lawyer who can “research and draft appeals motions and legal decisions rapidly and with great skill,” and a lawyer with investigative experience who can join a team focused on one of the suspects.
“Judge Harmon must complete his investigative work within 2014,” Mr. Scheffer writes in his email addressed to the director of the Center for International Human Rights at Chicago’s Northwestern University School of Law.
The court’s 2014-2015 budget provides funds only for a pared-back number of staff for the Office of Co-Investigating Judges for the first three months of 2015.
“Thus, he requires these individuals immediately and no later than June 2014, to remain at work at least through December 2014.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen has been vocal in his opposition to the cases, warning that further investigations into Khmer Rouge-era crimes would risk a return to civil war. Judge Harmon is conducting his investigations without the assistance of his national counterpart, Judge You Bunleng, who considers both cases to be closed.
International Co-Prosecutor Nicholas Koumjian is also in need of free assistance for the remainder of his office’s work on Case 002, as well as for cases 003 and 004.
“They will be extremely busy with a very complicated appeal” related to fair trial issues that need defending, Mr. Scheffer says, “while also preparing and starting the biggest case yet,” which is the second phase of Case 002. The office must also prepare closing submissions in cases 003 and 004.
The email says that the Office of the Co-Prosecutors is aiming to make these two cases “as efficient as possible,” and that about 1,200 interviews or statements have already been added to the case files.
The extra help would ease this mounting workload, Mr. Scheffer says.
Mr. Scheffer’s call has been relayed by the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights, which put the word out to the ABA-U.N. Development Program International Legal Resource Center.
Lars Olsen, the tribunal’s legal communications officer, said he had “no knowledge of the issues” raised in the email.
Deputy co-prosecutor William Smith said he was not in a position to comment, because he had not seen the email, which he understood to be confidential.
Mr. Scheffer did not return a request for comment.
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