Home > Khmer Rouge, Local News > Outgoing consultant blasts tribunal judges

Outgoing consultant blasts tribunal judges

A consultant to the investigating judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal
spoke of the “toxic atmosphere” within the “professionally
dysfunctional” office in resigning in protest last month over the
handling of the court’s controversial third case.

The news
follows a public statement issued by the investigating judges on Sunday
acknowledging that multiple staffers from their office had left amid
disagreements over the Case 003 investigation, which was closed in April
and appears to have been scuttled amid opposition from the Cambodian
government. In a resignation letter dated May 5 and addressed to German
co-investigating judge Siegfried Blunk, Stephen Heder, a noted historian
of the Khmer Rouge period, said he and others in the office had become
increasingly disillusioned with the judges’ action in the case.

“In
view of the judges’ decision to close the investigation into Case File
003 effectively without investigating it, which I, like others, believe
was unreasonable; in view of the UN staff’s evidently growing lack of
confidence in your leadership, which I share; and in view of the toxic
atmosphere of mutual mistrust generated by your management of what is
now a professionally dysfunctional office, I have concluded that no good
use can or will be made of my consultancy services,” Heder wrote. He
declined to comment yesterday beyond the resignation letter.

In
response to the resignations of Heder and at least three foreign staff
members from the office, Blunk and his Cambodian counterpart, You
Bunleng, said on Sunday that they “welcome the departure of all staff
members who ignore the sole responsibility of the [co-investigating
judges]” over Case 003.

The suspects in this case remain
officially confidential, though court documents reveal them as former KR
navy commander Meas Mut and air force commander Sou Met, men thought to
be responsible for thousands of deaths.

Blunk and You Bunleng
have evinced a siege mentality in their public statements in recent
weeks, lashing out at those who have questioned their professional
behaviour.

Last month, the judges ordered international
co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley to retract a statement he had made outlining
further investigative steps he planned to request in Case 003, as he is
permitted to do under court rules.

The judges accused Cayley of
breaching the court’s confidentiality rules in an order that Cayley has
appealed. They have since rejected his investigative requests.

Yesterday,
the tribunal’s Pre-Trial Chamber ruled in a unanimous decision that
this retraction order, which Blunk and You Bunleng had stipulated be
carried out within three days, be suspended pending a final decision on
Cayley’s appeal.

In their decision, the Pre-Trial Chamber judges
noted that “the information the Co-Investigating Judges ask the
International Co-Prosecutor to retract is quoted in the Order issued by
the Co-Investigating Judges”.

“As such, the information will
remain in the public domain even if it is ‘retracted’ by the
Co-Prosecutors,” the Pre-Trial Chamber said.

The Pre-Trial
Chamber judges have historically split in ruling on matters related to
cases 003 and 004, with the Cambodian judges opposing the cases and the
international judges in favour. Clair Duffy, a trial monitor with the
Open Society Justice Initiative, said “reason has prevailed” with
yesterday’s decision, though she cautioned that it was still too early
to say whether the chamber will reverse Blunk and You Bunleng’s
rejection of the requests for additional investigation in Case 003. 

Categories: Khmer Rouge, Local News
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